Atlantic a sea of rubbish

PARIS: The North Atlantic looks like a rubbish tip, with plastic and polystyrene flotsam spreading far and wide, four French explorers just back from eight months at sea report.Once out of the Breton port of Trinite-sur-Mer in October, they typically spotted at least four to five pieces of rubbish a day – only to sail into a veritable floating dump in April in the Sargasso Sea around Bermuda.”In 15 minutes we saw more garbage than at any time during our journey,” the naval engineer, Yann Geffriaud, 27, said on Saturday a few hours after their return.”It was truly a shock, when in the middle of nowhere we came across 10 to 20 pieces of garbage every five minutes.”The Sargasso Sea, where currents between Florida and Bermuda converge, is named for a brown seaweed – sargassum – that proliferates on its surface, trapping any floating rubbish.”Ninety-five per cent of the stuff is plastics, from toothpaste tubes to aerosol containers and water bottles,” said Mr Geffriaud, the founder of Watch the Waste, a group that asks mariners to monitor rubbish.”Frankly speaking, we did not see a compact area of plastic, but a scattering.”The findings echoed those of the US seafarer and researcher Charles Moore who, two years ago, sailed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – an estimated 100 million tonnes of rubbish sprawled between Hawaii and Japan.Last February, the US-based Sea Education Association revealed the existence of another virtual island of plastic in the North Atlantic, spread over an area as big as France.Outside the Sargasso Sea, Mr Geffriaud said, the French expedition regularly saw garbage, much of which had been swept from dry land into the ocean by streams and rainfall.”But we saw five times more on the way back, between Bermuda and the Azores, than on the way out along a more southerly track from Cape Verde to Tobago.”Given that we can never clean up the sea, the most simple thing to do is to raise public awareness,” Mr Geffriaud and his team said.Agence France-Presse
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Sifting terrorist chips from Israel policy push

AMMAN: Pallet loads of potato chips are hardly an answer to the plight of Palestinians, now in the fourth year of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Likewise, a continued ban on shipments of coriander to the impoverished enclave cannot be seen as a serious plank in Israel’s national security blueprint.Since the blockade began in 2007, world opinion has chosen to ignore its impact on daily life in Gaza. But Israel’s gross over-reaction in killing nine protesters as its forces commandeered a Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla two weeks ago has finally focused attention on the cruelty of a blockade justified by Israel as essential to preventing the smuggling of weapons to Hamas.Under a barrage of international criticism, Israel is easing some of the restrictions – but in identifying the products that seemingly no longer constitute a security risk the Netanyahu government has exposed the blockade as an exercise in collective punishment of a civilian population.Along with chips, Israeli authorities have decreed that the likes of jam, halva and razor blades have ceased to be a security risk and will be allowed into Gaza. Coriander and cardamom, and possibly even cookies, might soon be cleared for shipment too.The gesture prompted a withering response from Gisha, an Israeli non-governmental organisation that monitors the detailed management of the blockade. “Gisha is pleased to learn that coriander no longer presents a threat to Israeli security,” its website says.In anticipation of permission for cookies to go to Gaza, however, Gisha lights on the blockade as economic warfare, saying: “It is not enough to permit Gaza residents to purchase Israeli-made cookies. Israel should stop banning raw materials such as industrial margarine and glucose, so that Gaza residents can produce their own cookies and restart the economy that has been paralysed for three years.”The list of prohibited goods still includes building materials – which Israel says will be hijacked by Hamas, a designated terrorist organisation. But it also lists the essentials for two industries by which a people dependent on food donations might work to feed themselves – fishing and market gardening.Gisha says they are still denied fishing rods and nets; nets for greenhouses and tractor spare parts; irrigation pipes and planters for saplings; and heaters for chicken farms.If only in this humanitarian dimension, there is something grotesque about Israel’s insistence on a policy that has demonstrably failed – Hamas survives and is getting stronger in Gaza. And that the world has acquiesced amid so much civilian suffering and privation in Gaza is equally disturbing.The global outcry in the aftermath of the botched Israeli attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla signals a move for change. But just what can be achieved remains to be seen.As with every crisis point in the 62 years of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an international consensus that ”something” has to be done to ease Palestinian suffering can bog down in endless negotiation, winning just minimal change as world attention shifts to other issues.Such an outcome was evident in the reported remarks late last week of unnamed Israeli officials who told the Associated Press that the easing of the blockade was more about defusing pressure for an international investigation into the attack on the flotilla than on relieving Palestinian suffering.There was further muddying of the issues with an Israeli claim that the blockade would not be lifted unless Hamas agreed to Red Cross visits to Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006 – an issue that is already the subject of Egyptian-mediated negotiations between Israel and Hamas.George Mitchell, Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy, told reporters in the aftermath of the attack that Washington was working ”aggressively” to make sure that Gazans received adequate supplies.Writing in the International Herald Tribune on Friday, the foreign ministers of France, Italy and Spain condemned Israel’s “unbending determination to force compliance with the blockade … [and] a logic that must now be abandoned”. They used the word du jour for describing the blockade – “unsustainable”.Just as there is a new argument in the US that Israel’s national security and settling the country’s conflict with the Palestinians are separate issues of American national security, there is a new global embrace of the separateness of Israel’s strategic need to deny Hamas weapons and the economic and humanitarian needs of Gaza’s 1.5 million people.Moves are afoot to have European Union monitors – instead of Israeli troops – examine the freight depots that serve Gaza. The ministerial trio also proposes that the Gaza port be reopened to cargo ships that would come under international inspection – to intercept smuggled weapons.Whatever the fate of the blockade, there is an expectant sense in the region that the emergence of non-Arab Turkey as a new and powerful champion of the Palestinian people has set the scene for dramatic changes in the management of the crisis.Likening Arab governments to lemons squeezed of their juice, because of their lost credibility for failing to extract concessions for the Palestinians, a former adviser to the late King Hussein of Jordan observed to the Herald: “It’s going to be a hot summer.”He was not discussing the weather.
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The forgotten community fighting for pride

It is cold and wet in Wilcannia. Wind is blowing through town as about 20 locals gather around a park bench on the Barrier Highway to sign time sheets proving they have worked the hours to earn a government allowance.The Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) program manager requested a shed from the federal government seven months ago from which to run the scheme.But work-for-the-dole participants are still meeting in 48-degree summer heat or the biting autumn wind that characterise the weather extremes on NSW’s flat, far-western plains.It is National Sorry Day, 2010, and Wilcannia, with a population of about 700 – two-thirds of which is Aboriginal – is a town broken.At its peak in the late 1800s, it was home to 3000 people and a busy inland port.More than a century later – notwithstanding the recent welcome rains and flowing Darling River – shops are barred and boarded up, the only employers to speak of are government departments, and the town centre is bookended by two poverty-stricken Aboriginal communities, the Mission and the Mallee.About five years ago 28 government houses, designed to be energy-efficient, were built. The residents have complained of being cooked in the sauna of their own crumbling homes ever since.The median income across the vast Central Darling Shire is just $310 a week. In Wilcannia, unemployment is estimated at more than 60 per cent.But immense resources are thrown at the town. The council has counted more than 50 government and non-government agencies that service its barely 15 streets and their residents.Access to fresh fruit and vegetables is cited by the Central Darling Shire Council as a big problem, but alcohol and marijuana dependence, as well as an historical paucity of activities and jobs are others.”They’ve really had no purpose the last 30 years,” the Darling Shire community and economic development manager, Kym Fuller, said.In the first week of June, Wilcannia lost four of its residents to drug and alcohol-related disease and organ failure, he said. They were all aged under 45.”There are cars stolen to get to funerals,” Mr Fuller said. ”People are putting their hands out for petrol so they can squeeze 10 people into the car.”But just before Christmas, something close to a miracle happened. Five members of the Wilcannia CDEP committee entered their council building – some for their first time in their lives – and sat down on the”flash, cushion chairs” to reach agreement on constructing a drive-through art gallery at Reconciliation Park opposite the hospital.”Before, they were told what to do. Now they’re asked what to do,” the CDEP manager, Trevor Johnstone, said. ”We’re supposed to be dumb blacks. They think we’re dumb blacks.”Their victory over a few business owners concerned, among other things, that the view to the golf course would be blocked by the open-air gallery, has given locals a sense of pride and community ownership they haven’t known for decades, Mr Johnstone said. ”There’s been a lot more pride up here because they’ve been treated with respect.”Mr Johnstone sees hope for Wilcannia in spite of years of setbacks. ”You’ve got to treat them like people,” he said.Each week, more than 30 CDEP workers meet in town to help fashion the drive-through gallery. Among them are recognised artists, 10 of whom will paint one wall each to contribute to the rest area, where it is hoped tourists will stop to break the drive to or from Broken Hill, which is 200 kilometres west.The project is a far cry from the not-too-distant past when, it is rumoured, business owners would buy paintings from locals with a case of beer and then sell their works to visitors for $200 apiece.Woddy Harris, who lives on the edge of town in a shed, spends his days carving didgeridoos, clapping sticks and bowls out of mallee, river red gum and leopardwood. He is passionate about returning the younger Aboriginal generation to the ways of old. ”There’s a spirit, whether you believe in it or you don’t believe in it. It’s still there,” he said. ”I learned [to carve] by my vision of the old people. You create life for yourself.”The revival of the town’s rugby league team, the Wilcannia Boomerangs, has also raised the chins of locals. ”Last year, they won every grade in the [Outback] Rugby League, from seniors through to juniors,” Mr Fuller said. ”They bloody did too, the bastards,” Mr Johnstone, who lives on Menindee Yabbies turf 150 kilometres away, said with a grin.There are other plans afoot to boost the town. Nobody quite believes it will happen, but a Sydney couple have bought a huge property on the outskirts of town with 15 kilometre of river frontage and plans to develop a luxury eco-resort there.Jim Sammon, who is originally from Ireland but has lived in Wilcannia for 20 years, owns the mining camp-style accommodation at ”The Shannon” next door to the proposed resort. He said life had been worse in his adopted home town in the past: ”It used to be a pretty rough sort of a place, but it’s good now.”
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Online advocacy group to refocus marginal seats on climate change

THE online advocacy group GetUp! plans to target the key Sydney marginal seats held by Maxine McKew and Malcolm Turnbull to wrench the attention of both major parties back to climate change before the federal election.It claims to have raised almost $500,000 in Mr Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth alone.In its 2010 election strategy document, released today, the organisation says it aims to have more than 10,000 members on the ground for the election – and more at polling booths than the major parties themselves.GetUp! will also mount a major enrolment drive aimed at getting 30,000 unenrolled young people, indigenous Australians and migrants to sign up to vote.The Herald has obtained the results of a survey GetUp! commissioned to Auspoll on key issues it has targeted for the election: climate change, mental health and asylum seekers.The poll of 1500 Australians, conducted nationally over four days this week, showed 72 per cent of respondents wanted a plan to reverse Australia’s rising ”pollution” in the next three years. Sixty-six per cent said they favoured faster processing of refugees, and 83 per cent said they would favour increasing government spending on mental health by $500 million a year.GetUp! has teamed up with the Australian of the Year and leading psychiatrist Patrick McGorry to drive its mental health agenda.”This campaign with GetUp! is about making sure that all sides of politics get moving now, because lives are at stake,” Professor McGorry said yesterday.The national director of GetUp!, Simon Sheikh, said Wentworth and Bennelong, held by Ms McKew, would not be the only marginal seats targeted by the organisation.Ryan in Queensland has also been selected as another ultra-marginal electorate, and the ACT will be in the spotlight because of its closely contested Senate race.”The stories we keep hearing are that Rudd and Abbott would like to get away this election without speaking about the issue of climate change,” Mr Sheikh said. ”This is our way of making sure they can’t get away with that.”GetUp! has had a major publicity coup this week by securing a surfing lesson from the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, for a former Afghan asylum seeker, Riz Wakil.
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Hopes helps Aussies down plucky Irish

SCORECARDA career-best haul from all-rounder James Hopes propelled Australia to an unconvincing 39-run one-day international victory, but not before the tourists were given a fright by cricketing minnows Ireland on Thursday.A stunning upset loomed when Ireland, who have just six fully contracted players on their books, reached 3-137 in the 25th over in pursuit of Australia’s 9-231, which was built on a composed 81 by Tim Paine.But Hopes spared the four-time world champions the ignominy of losing to a non-Test playing side by returning stellar figures of 5-14, easily eclipsing his previous best of 3-30, while off-spinner Nathan Hauritz collected 2-40.Ireland lost their final seven wickets for 55 runs, 36 of which came in an entertaining last-wicket stand between John Mooney and Boyd Rankin.”With the new ball is the best time to bat on that wicket,’ said a relieved Ricky Ponting.”We were hoping to make the most of the new ball and we didn’t and they got off to a flying start.”Hopes was outstanding and I thought Hauritz was very good as well. Once we took the pace off the ball it was very hard to score.”A sellout crowd of 4500 sniffed an upset after Ireland openers William Porterfield and Paul Stirling thrashed 80 off 68 balls, including 42 from the first four overs.Ryan Harris and Clint McKay bore the brunt of the attack and were smashed around the ground.Nineteen-year-old Stirling, who earlier claimed a tidy 2-34 from his 10 overs, made a run-a-ball 36 to complete a fine double before being bowled by Harris.Porterfield creamed three boundaries in Harris’s first over but failed to capitalise on lives given to him on 35 and 38 and was bowled by Nathan Hauritz for a team-high 39 off 42 balls.Brisbane-born Alex Cusack and Niall O’Brien added 51 for the fourth wicket before Hopes wreaked havoc on the Irish.Bowling a stump-to-stump line on a wicket favouring slower bowlers, medium-pacer Hopes trapped Cusack in front for 30 then combined with Paine to dismiss Andrew White for four.He was on a hattrick after removing Trent Johnston and Peter Connell but was denied by No.11 Rankin.”I was talking on the sideline when the Irish medium-pacers were going. They were bowling quite straight and weren’t giving us much room to cut,” Hopes said.”So I sat down with the coaches and spoke about taking the cross-bat shots out of it and trying to get them to hit the ball back past us.”All our batsmen were saying it was very hard to drive so I was trying to make them drive.”Paine formed the cornerstone of Australia’s innings, sharing twin 66-run partnerships with Ricky Ponting (33 off 54 balls) and Cameron White (42 off 54).But the Australians lost their way in the final overs and only Hauritz, with a whirlwind 19 off 10 deliveries, was able to significantly up the ante.AAP
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Cranky Harry saga continues: reporter fights back

HERE I am Harry, where I was always going to be and where I’ll be for the next few weeks. Covering the World Cup.
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Not covering you, exclusively, I must admit. I like to get around. On Wednesday afternoon, when you seemed to be rather upset that I wasn’t squeezed among the press pack at Ruimsig, tape recorder in hand, I was actually in Pretoria. Months ago I applied, and received, accreditation to report on South Africa’s game against Uruguay. You can check if you like.

Perhaps if I’d known you were going to front the cameras – we’re not generally told who Football Federation Australia are ”putting up” in advance – I would have changed my plans. Come to think of it, no I wouldn’t have.

You see, Harry, I spent a lot of years, a lot of energy and a lot of effort chasing you for quotes around the world. I was there when it all began for you in 1996 – in fact, I was there a long time before that – and I’m still here now.

Ninety per cent of that time, you’ve blanked me. The last time, four years ago in Yokohama, I made a decision there wasn’t much point in the charade any more. Something I conveyed, quite clearly, to your manager, Bernie Mandic. So you got on with your life and I got on with mine. That’s fair enough. There’s plenty of athletes and plenty of journalists who don’t get on. Nature of the beast and all that.

What’s also true in this business is that if you dish it out, you’ve got to take it. I’ve dished it out to you in the past week and I’m happy to take it. But I stand by every word I’ve written. Every single one. You’ve had a dream run in terms of scrutiny, real scrutiny, regarding your performances. You know it, Bernie knows it. In fact, Bernie once told me – remember when you brushed me at Waverley Oval? – that as far as Team Kewell was concerned, the football media was a joke, utterly irrelevant. Give us Ray Martin over you numpties any day was Bernie’s point. A message conveyed, I might add, in much more forceful language than that.

So if what is written by a football journalist means diddly-squat, I’m not quite sure why my words over the past few weeks have got under your skin. And they have because you went to the FFA last week and demanded my accreditation be revoked. The accreditation I need to cover the Socceroos. That’s 23 players, by the way, not just you.

So here’s the thing, Harry. You know and I know that most of the media are in your thrall. One hack even professed his love for you the other day. I happen to believe it’s what you do on the pitch for Australia that counts. Not what your PR machine spins out. Not how good you look in a pair of undies. And I happen to believe, since the last World Cup, you’ve done bugger all. I couldn’t praise you enough after the game in Brisbane against Iraq. You can get the clippings if you like. But the rest of the time, as far as I’m concerned, you’ve been a myth.

Now you’ve got the chance to show you’re not. That there’s still something in the tank. Go out against Ghana, when our World Cup is on the line, when your own international career is on the line, and do something. Actually DO something. Prove something. And if you do, I’ll be the first to praise you. As for the rest of it, I’m still here, still writing about football and hope to be for a long time to come.

Nation gets its parental leave

Australia has became one of the last advanced economies to introduce a paid parental leave scheme after Parliament passed historic legislation giving mums or dads 4 months of financial support to spend time with their newborns.
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Parents will be able to apply for the 18 weeks’ leave, paid at the minimum wage of $570 a week, within months and begin taking the time off from January 1.

Families Minister Jenny Macklin described it as a historic day and a big win for families.

”Parents will get more support to stay home with a new baby, and children will get the best start in life. Businesses will also retain more skilled workers,” she said.

”It is especially important for those casual workers, seasonal workers, part-time workers, those contract and self-employed workers, many, many of whom have never had access to paid parental leave,” she said.

About 148,000 families are expected to qualify for the scheme that also requires employers to top it up with any program they already have in place.

It is available to a child’s primary care giver, either mother or father, and can be taken at any point in the first year after birth or adoption. To be eligible, the parent must have worked at least one day a week for 10 of the 13 months before the birth or adoption, and must earn less than $150,000 a year.

Parents can choose between the leave and the $5185 baby bonus. The Government estimates 85 per cent of families will be better off with the leave, receiving on average $2000 more after tax and family assistance are taken into account.

National Foundation for Australian Women spokeswoman Marie Coleman said it was a great day.

”This is something we have worked for for so long, and it is of such importance to women, particularly but not only all those women who work on low-paid jobs on a casual or part-time basis without any entitlements it is going to make a huge difference to them,” she said.

She said this scheme was a beginning and Australia needed to improve it over time.

”We think over time and as the economy can afford it, we have got to move to 26 weeks. We have to move to income replacement, and we have got to make sure that we have superannuation built in. Those are the three key bits,” she said.

”You do those as you can. I think once the scheme has been running for a year, or two years, small business will discover that the sky won’t fall in.”

Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said it was also a historic day for fathers, noting that the leave could be shared between parents.

”The paid parental leave scheme is about mums and dads,” she said.

She said 18 weeks was a good start, but the scheme should be extended to six months with extra leave for fathers: ”Until you isolate a component just for dads on a use it or lose it basis, most dads won’t take any of the leave.”

Ms Broderick was also concerned that the scheme did not include superannuation.

Ms Macklin encouraged businesses to build on the Government scheme, and effectively top it up.

”When you put together existing paid parental leave schemes, add the Government’s 18 weeks and the leave that many parents save up for when they have their babies, it will be the case that for many, many parents they will have six months’ leave.”

Unions and business groups also welcomed the new laws.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said it was a hard-won and important reform.

”There will be compliance costs for business, which are always onerous. However the reform is one which we are confident will prove to be beneficial for Australia,” she said.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson was disappointed Opposition amendments that would have meant the Government administered the payments, instead of businesses, were not enforced.

The Opposition won support for this change in the Senate yesterday morning, causing the legislation to bounce back and forth between the two chambers through the day until the upper house said it would accept the unamended laws in the late afternoon.

Liberal senator Mitch Fifield said while the scheme was flawed, the Coalition was not prepared to force the issue and hold its progress up any further.

”The Opposition has been very reasonable. We haven’t sought to obstruct, we haven’t sought to delay, we haven’t sought to imperil this legislation.”

The Opposition is promising a more generous scheme, which will last six months, replace income up to $75,000 over that time and include superannuation. with AAP

Cake gets a rise out of MasterChef’s Matt

Matthew Caldicott … undone by a carrot cake Some of the guest judges and regular judges of Masterchef
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A taste test has claimed yet another young MasterChef hopeful with the shock exit of Sydney number cruncher Matthew Caldicott.

The 21-year-old accountant found himself kicked off the Channel Ten series after wrongly identifying an ingredient in a Calombaris carrot cake.

“I knew eggs were in it as I’m sure nearly every cake has eggs in it,” Caldicott said afterwards.

“I then said apricots as there were little slithers on top of the cake. When the judges asked me to specify I freaked out and said the first thing in my head which was dried apricots, but it was apricot jam.

“I was pretty shattered as I knew a few ingredients that I was keeping up my sleeve.”

After failing the Qantas A380 challenge, Caldicott’s blue team was forced to compete against one another in the elimination round; a taste test to name all 16 ingredients used in the traditional carrot cake recipe passed down judge George Calombaris’ family.

The irony of his elimination was not lost on Caldicott, a third-generation accountant who has now shunned his profession to pursue a career in the kitchen.

“I guess it is a little ironic.

“All those months of hard work came to an end because of one word.”

Caldicott, whose specialty during the series was modern Australian with a French twist, is positive about his chances in the hospitality industry and has not touched a calculator since leaving the show.

“I’ve been doing some work experience at Spice Temple in Sydney, which has been great, and setting up some catering work,” he said.

“My parents have been really supportive and they’re really happy for me. They want to see me do something with this now, whether it’s me trying to become a chef – which they’re all for – or getting into another part of the industry.”

Johnson will live to regret leaving Jonny on bench, says Horan

WORLD Cup hero Tim Horan has castigated England coach Martin Johnson for not selecting Jonny Wilkinson in the starting line-up for the Sydney Test tomorrow night, warning that leaving him on the bench is a decision he will regret.Horan, writing for the Herald’s rugbyheaven website as part of The Legends Call series, could not comprehend what Johnson ”is trying to achieve” by selecting former New Zealand league representative Shontayne Hape ahead of Wilkinson.England opted yesterday against the sentimental selection that would have enabled Wilkinson to start the Test on his first return to Homebush since he won the 2003 World Cup final over the Wallabies with a brilliant extra-time field goal.”Johnson should have picked the man who broke Australian hearts in the 2003 World Cup final and it’s a decision he’s likely to regret,” Horan wrote. ”Wilkinson would provide more stability to this English team, give them a fear factor, and have the Wallabies thinking about his presence in the back line during the 24-hour countdown to the game. And I don’t base my opinion on what Jonny did seven years ago at the same ground. His form simply warrants selection.”Horan, one of Australia’s greatest centres and an integral member of the Wallabies’ 1991 and 1999 World Cup triumphs, said he had been in contact with insiders at Wilkinson’s Toulon club, who have informed him that over the past year he has been in ”good shape, carrying no injuries and is close to his best form”.”Jonny should be starting for England, together with the man who will wear the No.10 jumper, Toby Flood. One of them could have played at inside centre and, in tandem, they would have given England two ball players as the Australians will have with Quade Cooper at No.10 and Matt Giteau at No.12,” Horan wrote.”Wilkinson has the ability to ignite this England back line. He has a presence and a passing game that would lift them for sure, as well as the ability to provide field position via his boot and capitalise on those territory gains by accumulating points.”Horan, the 1999 World Cup player of the tournament, said Wilkinson’s omission was just one of a number of confusing decisions Johnson had made on this tour.”Jonny hasn’t played in either touring match against the Australian Barbarians and he got five minutes in the first Test last weekend,” Horan said. ”What was the point in even bringing him out? If they were going to put him in cotton wool, or simply overlook him, then England might as well have left him at home. So who have they picked?”Shontayne Hape will wear the No.12 jersey alongside Flood. This is the same player who I think made three tackles in the first Test, missed a crucial one when Luke Burgess put Quade Cooper across for a try and, from memory, ran the ball once. It’s fair to say he didn’t show a lot. So if you were the England coach, wouldn’t you pick Wilkinson ahead of a rookie like Shontayne Hape?”If England lose on Saturday, the pressure will definitely be on Johnson, with the British media growing increasingly agitated by his unimpressive win-loss coaching record.Following the Perth defeat, comparisons were made with the previous England coach, Brian Ashton, who was ousted after taking the team to a World Cup final and was involved in 12 wins in 22 Tests. Johnson’s record stands at eight wins from 22 Tests.
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Stosur serves it up on her way into semis

EASTBOURNE: Samantha Stosur has delivered a serving masterclass to scorch into the semi-finals of the pre-Wimbledon event at Eastbourne.Contesting her seventh consecutive WTA quarter-final, Stosur thundered down 15 aces in an impressive 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-0 win over high-flying Scot Elena Baltacha.Victory set up a showdown on Friday with either 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova or fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova.With Wimbledon just around the corner, Stosur said she’d been practising her serve ”over and over” to ensure she gets full value from her big kicker on the London lawns when the season’s third grand slam gets underway on Monday.”On the grass, it’s even more important,” Stosur said after highlighting her point in emphatic fashion yesterday.Living dangerously, Stosur probably didn’t need to fuel Baltacha’s confidence by handing her the opening set with a meek netted backhand in the tiebreaker.But the French Open runner-up was a completely different player from then on, banging winners from all parts of the court to blow Baltacha away.After breaking the Brit’s serve twice, Stosur unleashed a hat-trick of aces to grab a 4-0 lead before quickly going on to draw level at a set apiece.It was one-way traffic in the deciding set, the third-seeded Stosur refusing to drop a single game.Belgian Kim Clijsters, meantime, reached the quarter-finals, needing only 38 minutes to sweep aside Czech left-hander Lucie Safarova 6-1, 6-0 and continue her good form in the Wimbledon warm-up tournament.Clijsters, playing her first tournament since injuring her foot in a Fed Cup tie in April, has dropped only three games in her first two matches. She allowed Safarova only seven points in the second set.”It was a good one, quick and perfect,” Clijsters said.”I feel that I’m moving well. I feel that my foot is holding up good and obviously those were my main concerns, especially the foot, when I first got here.”? Meanwhile, Bernard Tomic has reached the Wimbledon men’s main draw with a final-round qualifying victory over talented Indian Prakash Amritraj.Tomic, a two-times grand slam junior champion, outclassed the Indian 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 6-4 yesterday.The 17-year-old prodigy joins 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt and fellow Australian Peter Luczak in the 128-man draw for the grasscourt grand slam starting on Monday.Carsten Ball and Matthew Ebden were hoping to further swell the Australian contingent when they contest their final-round qualifying matches later in the day.AP
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Full-time role means one selector will get dropped

THE full-time selector Cricket Australia has needed for years will be appointed before the Ashes campaign, with one of Jamie Cox, David Boon or Merv Hughes set to lose their job.The trio’s performances will be assessed by chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch and CA’s general manager of cricket operations, Michael Brown, before one is likely to be asked for his resignation. Brown said one of the three could yet land the full-time role – titled national talent manager – and therefore no change would be made to the four-man panel as it stands, but the fact CA are set to advertise for the position next week makes it unlikely.The new selector would be in charge of liaising with state talent managers, national players and fielding media inquiries – much of which has been ignored in the past few years.”This is a huge step,” Brown told the Herald last night. ”This is really strongly supported by the states and they are very important stakeholders. We need to professionalise the game of cricket, to do that we have strong recommendations that cricket enter a full-time era, yet the selectors are still part-time.”So we need to professionalise the selections process. We wanted to improve talent management and leadership – soccer and AFL have done this really well.”Hilditch is contracted as chairman of selectors until the end of next year’s World Cup and will retain his position as the panel’s head.Brown said for the time being he saw the need for only one full-time selector, so Adelaide lawyer Hilditch and the remaining two would hold their primary occupations.Cox has previously been accused of having a conflict of interest because he retains his role as South Australia’s director of cricket, with the eastern states particularly aggrieved at the seemingly 50-50 calls that went to Redbacks and Tasmanian players recently.Boon is a marketing executive with Cricket Tasmania.Hughes has been criticised for running overseas tour group operations while working as touring selector and players have privately expressed concern about his ability to make career-defining calls while entertaining clients.The entire selection panel was ridiculed following the Ashes defeat last year and Hilditch admitted that they misread The Oval pitch for the deciding Test when spinner Nathan Hauritz was left out. They were also under fire for hastily promoting, then dropping, young opening batsman Phillip Hughes. And the number of spinners tried in the past few years has been comical.But the coming Ashes campaign will certainly benefit from a full-time eye because questions have arisen over the amount of state cricket selectors are watching in between their occupational duty.Brown said the candidacy was open to all-comers – even state talent managers – but there are five qualities being sought. They must have international first-class experience, be skilled negotiators, have an ability to manage people, be effective communicators, and understand the identification of talent and manage it.Meanwhile, Australian captain Ricky Ponting has opposed Channel Nine’s proposal to restore all wickets in the second innings of the split-innings one-dayers to be played domestically this summer.”Personally, I wouldn’t like to see it go that way. I would like to see it remain as a traditional game of cricket,” Ponting said in Dublin before the ODI against Ireland.”Forty wickets in the game, it almost goes away from the game of cricket. I think what everybody is after with this game is having some point of difference between 20-over cricket and a 40-over game, which is the way it’s heading, and a 50-over game.”I think if you start bringing it back to 40 wickets in a game, the point of difference between a 20-over game and that concept is not very much.”
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Former Tiger calls for AFL indigenous role

MICHAEL MITCHELL was offended and saddened by Mal Brown calling he and fellow indigenous footballers ”cannibals” but believes it merely highlights how much the AFL – and society – would benefit from having an indigenous commissioner.Mitchell, who described the comments, made at a football lunch, as belonging to another era ”that sadly still seems to linger”, said the percentage of indigenous players in the AFL warranted representation among the competition’s governing body.”It would have to be someone with good community knowledge, good corporate knowledge, but also with a vision – with the bigger picture in mind,” Mitchell said. ”Footy’s part of a bigger picture for indigenous folk and families; that’s how it should always be viewed, not as the picture.”As prominent figures from football, politics and across society condemned Brown’s comments yesterday, Mitchell said they presented an opportunity for positive change and for the AFL to back up its pride in its Aboriginal talent.”For 2 per cent of the population, the AFL has 11 per cent indigenous players – that’s 9 per cent over the numbers, and that puts a greater social responsibility on the AFL,” Mitchell said. ”There’s only a couple of organisations in the country that enjoy a positive over-representation of indigenous folk, according to population, and they do luxuriate in it.”There’s a greater requirement on them as an organisation to give back to indigenous folk, to ensure there are more and more indigenous folk given the opportunity to engage at that level – to not just aspire to that, but to see the steps necessary and genuinely be able to achieve it.”Mitchell, who played 81 games for Richmond and now works for the West Australian Department of Health establishing a statewide indigenous mental health service, believes representation on the commission would help to educate society that comments like Brown’s – even made in jest – are inappropriate.Mitchell has met Sam Mostyn, who became the AFL’s first female commissioner in 2005, followed two years later by Linda Dessau, and is enthusiastic about what the women brought to the game. He believes an indigenous commissioner would bring a similar level of education and broader understanding.”It’s needed at every tier, at every level,” he said. ”That ensures the organisation is culturally sound and is willing to demonstrate that as much as talking it up.”A Yamatji man who won a Sandover Medal in the WAFL while playing for Claremont, Mitchell was coached by Brown while playing state football for WA. He said Brown had done a lot not only for indigenous football but indigenous people, and as a pioneer at South Fremantle where he built a team around star Aboriginal players including Stephen Michael, Maurice Rioli, Benny Vigona and Basil Campbell.”He would say that sort of thing, but he’d say it straight to your face, he wouldn’t hide behind it,” Mitchell said of Brown, whom he said had been respected by his players. ”Coming from Mal, it wasn’t surprising. The good news is that he’s apologised and understands that he’s made a huge mistake.”The Marngrook Footy Show panel discussed inviting Brown onto last night’s show on Channel 31, but felt it may trivialise the issue. ”The view was people like that shouldn’t be on our show …,” host Grant Hansen said. ”We can educate people without having him there.”Panel member Ronnie Burns, the former Geelong and Adelaide star and the nephew of Benny Vigona, spoke to his uncle on Melville Island yesterday and said he was disappointed and shocked at Brown’s comments.
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Phones running hot after radiation warnings

LOS ANGELES: San Francisco is set to require mobile phone makers to warn customers that the gadgets are bathing them in radiation.The city’s Board of Supervisors has approved the unprecedented law in a 10-to-1 vote, and it is expected to be signed by the mayor, Gavin Newsom, who has endorsed the measure.The law requires makers of mobile phones to display in stores details of the levels of radiation emitted by different handsets in the same way that restaurants show the number of calories in food and drinks.Failure to comply will incur a $US300 ($347) fine.In particular, shoppers must be shown estimates of how much of the radio wave radiation from each mobile phone model is absorbed into the body of the person using it.If signed by Mr Newsom, the law would take effect early next year and be the first of its kind in the US.San Francisco, one of the most environmentally conscious cities in the US, was also the first big city in the country to ban plastic bags in supermarkets.Sophie Maxwell, the local politician who introduced the mobile phone law, said it was intended to ”help people make informed choices”.But opponents within the mobile phone industry said it would mislead customers into believing some mobile phones are safer than others.They argue that safety is already ensured by the regulator, the Federal Communications Commission, which imposes a maximum specific absorption rate of 1.6 watts a kilogram on all phones sold in the US.The debate over the health dangers of mobile phones remains unresolved.A $US24 million United Nations study released last month was considered inconclusive. Its authors said because cancers can take decades to develop there was no way to estimate the risk.Agence France-Presse; Telegraph, London
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