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.
南京夜网

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
南京夜网

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.”
南京夜网

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.
南京夜网

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
南京夜网

Few details as Israel eases Gaza blockade

JERUSALEM: Israel has agreed to loosen its land blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, hoping to quell growing international criticism following its deadly raid on an aid convoy.The office of the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, issued a statement yesterday that said the security cabinet had approved a plan to ease the three-year-old blockade. However it released few details about the changes, and it was not clear whether any firm decisions had been made, despite two days of cabinet meetings.The only item singled out in the statement was a plan to allow in desperately needed construction materials for civilian projects, but only under international supervision.Israel has barely allowed the entry of materials such as cement and steel, arguing that Hamas militants could use them to build weapons and fortifications. That policy has prevented Gaza from rebuilding after Israel’s fierce war in the territory last year.There was no mention in the statement of any change in other damaging aspects of the blockade, such as bans on exports or allowing in raw materials used in industrial production.The naval blockade will remain. The statement said Israel would ”continue existing security procedures to prevent the inflow of weapons and war materiel”. Mr Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that if the naval closure is lifted, Hamas would turn Gaza into an ”Iranian port”.Israel has been scrambling to find ways to ease the blockade since its raid on a blockade-busting flotilla on May 31 turned deadly. The deaths of nine Turkish activists on board one of the ships drew international attention to the blockade and provoked much anger against Israel worldwide.The 15-member security cabinet said it expected the international community ”to work towards the immediate release of Gilad Shalit”, the Israeli soldier snatched by Gaza-based militants in June 2006.Israel first imposed the blockade after the corporal’s capture, but it was tightened significantly – with Egypt’s co-operation – after Hamas forcibly took over the Palestinian enclave a year later.However, the blockade failed to stem the flow of weapons to Gaza or weaken Hamas. A network of smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border became a conduit for weapons and for commercial goods sold at black-market prices. Gazans sank deeper into poverty, turning their anger against Israel and not their Hamas rulers.The partial lifting of the siege did not satisfy Hamas. ”We want a real lifting of the siege, not window-dressing,” said a Hamas MP, Salah Bardawil.In the West Bank, the rival pro-Western Palestinian government of Mahmoud Abbas also rejected the Israeli decision. Its chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said the siege ”is collective punishment and it must be lifted”.Amid the heavy international criticism that followed the Israeli naval raid, Egypt opened its land border crossing with Gaza. But most Gazans remained confined to the crowded territory because Egyptian officials say they have let in only about 10,000 people with special travel permits, such as students and people with foreign passports.Associated Press, Agence France-Presse
南京夜网

Sorrowful BP boss hints others were also at fault for spill

WASHINGTON: The chief executive of BP says he is ”personally devastated” by the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, but that it is too early to decide what caused the mishap or to nominate with certainty when the leak will be plugged.In prepared remarks that were to be delivered overnight to a House of Representatives’ energy and commerce subcommittee in Washington, Tony Hayward said he understood the animosity that Americans feel towards him and his company.The explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig ”never should have happened and I am deeply sorry that they did”, he said.”My sadness has only grown as the disaster continues.”None of us yet knows why [the accident] happened. But, whatever the cause, we at BP will do what we can to make certain that an incident like this does not happen again.”BP confirmed on Wednesday that it will set aside $US20 billion ($23 billion) over four years to compensate those hit by the disaster, a coup for President Barack Obama, who has been trying to assure Americans he will force the company to pay ”every last dime” of the clean-up.The amount has not been capped, nor have the rights of individuals or states to sue BP, meaning the cost to the oil giant can be expected to escalate.The company is also providing $US100 million immediately for workers affected by a six-month moratorium imposed by the government on new deepwater exploration in the gulf .Mr Obama welcomed the payout. ”What this is about is accountability … At the end of the day, it’s what every American wants and expects,” he said.Mr Hayward’s appearance before the committee is his first since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and sank the Deepwater Horizon. Earlier this week, executives from other oil companies appeared before Congress and sought to distance themselves from BP.But Mr Hayward’s statement, while agreeing that BP was the responsible party in the matter, hinted that others could be drawn into a legal fight.”This is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures. A number of companies are involved, including BP, and it is simply too early to understand the cause.”Mr Hayward was less confident of success in attempts to cap the leak, saying BP could not ”guarantee the outcome of these operations”.”But we are working around the clock with the best experts from government and industry.”Two relief wells being drilled to take over from the crippled well were not expected to be completed before August, but represented ”the ultimate solution to stopping the flow of oil and gas”.BP expects to be able to siphon about 90 per cent of the oil flow into tankers by mid-July, as much as 80,000 barrels a day.However, some observers feared the operation could further weaken the structure of the well, which has been damaged by attempts to staunch the leak.Mr Hayward was sure to face condemnation from the House subcommittee.Responding to his planned testimony, committee member Bart Stupak, a Democrat, said: ”It’s not going to ring true with me or the American public … He’s just going to say, ‘I’m sorry, it’s not going to happen again’. It’s not good enough.”
南京夜网

Weight of the nation a big issue

In Japan, being thin isn’t just the price you pay for fashion or social acceptance. It’s the law.So before the fat police could throw her in pudgy purgatory, Miki Yabe, 39, a manager at a major transportation corporation, went on a crash diet. In the week before her company’s annual health check-up, Yabe ate 21 consecutive meals of vegetable soup and hit the gym for 30 minutes a day of running and swimming.”It’s scary,” said Yabe, who is 160 centimetres tall and weighs 60 kilograms. ”I gained two kilos this year.”In Japan, already the slimmest industrialised nation, people are fighting fat to ward off dreaded metabolic syndrome and comply with a government-imposed waistline standard.Metabolic syndrome, known here simply as ”metabo”, is a combination of health risks, including stomach flab, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.Concerned about rising rates of both in a greying nation, Japanese legislators last year set a maximum waistline size for anyone age 40 and older: 85 centimetres for men and 90 centimetres for women.The experience of the Japanese offers lessons in how complicated it is to legislate good health.Though Japan’s ”metabo law” aims to save money by heading off health risks related to obesity, there is no consensus that it will.Doctors and health experts have said the waistline limits conflict with the International Diabetes Federation’s recommended guidelines for Japan. Meanwhile, ordinary residents have been buying fitness equipment, joining gyms and popping herbal pills in an effort to lose weight, even though some doctors warn they are already too thin to begin with.The number of ”food calories which the Japanese intake is decreasing from 10 years ago”, said Yoichi Ogushi, professor of medicine at Tokai University and one of the leading critics of the law. ”So there is no obesity problem as in the USA. To the contrary, there is a problem of leanness in young females.”Under Japan’s healthcare coverage, companies administer check-ups to employees once a year. Those who fail to meet the waistline requirement must undergo counselling.If companies do not reduce the number of overweight employees by 10 per cent by 2012 and 25 per cent by 2015, they could be required to pay more money into a healthcare program for the elderly. An estimated 56 million Japanese will have their waists measured this year.Healthcare costs in Japan are projected to double by 2020 and represent 11.5 per cent of gross domestic product. That’s why some health experts support the metabo law.Though the health exams for metabolic syndrome factor in blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, weight and smoking, waist size is the most critical element in the law – and perhaps the most humiliating.On the day of her exam, Yabe arrived at the clinic at 8.30am. The tests lasted an hour. The result: her waist was 84 centimetres – safely under the limit. She had shed 2.95 kilograms thanks to her diet and exercise.A week later, however, Yabe was back to eating pasta and other favourite foods. ”I want to keep healthy now, but I don’t know,” she said. ”Maybe in December I will have many bonenkai [year-end parties]. And next summer I will drink beer, almost every day.”
南京夜网

How justice works in pirates’ favour

Of the 15-strong gang who held me prisoner in a cave in Somalia, a tough, skinny lad named Fraisal is the one I remember best. He always made sure I had enough tea and cigarettes, could cook a half-edible goat stew on the campfire, and, when not issuing death threats, would tell me tales of how he came to choose piracy as a career.Regaled in a mixture of pidgin English and charades, it was hard not to feel a little sympathy for his story. Orphaned when his parents had been killed in Somalia’s civil war, he’d tried and failed to smuggle himself to Europe, before being ”adopted” by the gang’s Fagin-like leader, who had kidnapped me on the orders of a local warlord.Yet the gun that was at Fraisal’s side could not disguise a certain childish naivety. On one occasion, he asked if I had an email address, so that we might stay in touch after I was released. On another, he mentioned a sister studying at college in Liverpool, and suggested I drop by to say hello.Since my release in early January 2009, I have not heard from Fraisal again. Despite his plan to try to board a people smugglers’ boat once more, and his pledge to ”come and say hello” if he ever joined his sister in England, there has been neither an email nor, thank God, a knock at my door.A few others in his line of work, however, look set to achieve his dream of making it to Europe – courtesy not of the people smugglers’ boats, but of the multinational anti-piracy force charged with tackling them.That is the extraordinary story that has unfolded in recent weeks in Room 35 of the maximum security court building in Rotterdam, where five Somali pirates, dressed in borrowed clothes and looking variously confused, bored and cheerful, have sat in front of a judge, lawyers and a contingent of armed policemen.It is fair to say they are not the most formidable buccaneers of their time; they were arrested by a Danish warship after a crewman on the freighter they tried to hijack set their skiff ablaze with a well-aimed petrol bomb.They are, however, assured a place in pirate folklore. After being picked up they were taken to the Netherlands, where they are the first pirates to stand trial in Europe in living memory. The Netherlands, which brought the case because the warship, the Samanyolu, was registered in the Dutch Antilles, hopes it will show that the West is serious about the Somali piracy problem. It is prosecuting the men for attempted ”sea robbery”, under laws first drafted in the 17th century. But the problem is that, 300 years on, the official message that piracy is a mug’s game is somewhat less clear than it used to be.After all, back in the days of sail, when pirates were last a serious threat to maritime commerce, official thinking was quite literally of the ”hanging’s too good for ’em” school. At the old Admiralty court in London, for example, pirates would drop from a rope that was cut deliberately too short to break their necks. After slowly asphyxiating – and doing a grisly leg-thrash known as the marshal’s dance – their bodies would be taken to a gibbet, and displayed as decaying, maggot-riddled warnings to others.By contrast, when the Rotterdam case finished yesterday, the worst they received was five years in a comfortable Dutch prison, where each will have a private cell complete with television, lavatory and shower. Prosecutors asked for a seven-year sentence, but the judge said he took into account the difficult conditions in Somalia that led the men to piracy. Once they are freed, moreover, they will be able to apply to stay in the Netherlands – the very chance that my old acquaintance Fraisal used to dream of.Small wonder, then, that those in the dock in Rotterdam have begun to think that things haven’t worked out quite so badly after all. ”When I first spoke to my client, he said being here was like heaven,” Willem-Jan Ausma, a lawyer who represents Farah Ahmed Yusuf, 27, said. ”For the first time in his life he didn’t feel he was in danger, and he was in a modern prison with the first modern lavatory and shower that he’d ever had.”The case is just one illustration of the difficulties the West is having in posing any real deterrent to Somalia’s pirate armadas, which continue to terrorise shipping in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Since the problem first began escalating in 2008, an international fleet of warships has been patrolling the waters off Somalia, policing a ”safe transit corridor” and advising ships on how to take evasive measures.Yet the chance to share in a multimillion-dollar ransom ensures there is a never-ending influx of desperate people willing to join the pirates’ ranks. Attempted hijackings went up to 217 last year, nearly double the 111 recorded in 2008, and while a smaller proportion of them were successful – roughly one in four last year, compared with one in three the year before – an estimated 200 sailors still languish as hostages. On Friday, the Eastern European crew of the British-flagged Asian Glory were freed after six months in captivity following the payment of a ransom.As I sat in the public gallery of the court in Rotterdam recently, I wondered whether I was that impartial an observer. The face of one defendant bore a passing resemblance to one of my own captors, and when I heard about the crew fending them off with a petrol bomb, I almost muttered a cheer.All the same, listening to the pirates’ defence, it was clear how little most of them felt that they had to lose. Like many other men from the dirt-poor fishing communities that dot the Somali coast, they turned to piracy after rumours swept their villages about the multimillion-dollar ransoms that could be gained. While their testimony has at times seemed exaggerated – one claimed that Somalis ate their children through hunger – all five claim to have been simply ordinary family men looking to put food on the table. ”I would not have done this if I hadn’t had so much trouble of my own,” said Abdirasaq Abdullahi Hirsi. ”Before I was arrested, 18 people depended on me. They now have no home or food or family to fall back on.”For all their concerns about their extended families, none now seem keen to return home. Instead, all five have asked to remain in the Netherlands, and to bring their families to join them upon release from jail.The court told them that they are here to ”answer for their crimes” rather than seek asylum. Mr Ausma points out that the Netherlands, like Britain, deems Somalia too dangerous to repatriate people to. ”When it is not possible to send them back to their own country, the judge will just have to set them free, like thousands of other Somalis who are here already,” he said.Lenient though their treatment may be, however, the ”Rotterdam Five” have at least seen the inside of a courtroom. The vast majority of pirates being apprehended by the international naval force never even get close, thanks to the controversial ”catch and release” policy, under which only those caught directly in the act of hijacking are generally taken into custody. Others simply have their weapons confiscated and are told to go on their way.The justification is that prosecutions in foreign courts are too time-consuming and expensive, and that it is more practical simply to disrupt the pirates’ activities. But critics in the shipping industry, which has paid out nearly $200 million ($232 million) in ransoms in the past two years, have likened it to catching an armed robber on the way to a bank and letting him off with a caution.Until recently, one alternative had been to take the pirates to Kenya, which undertook to try suspects arrested by Britain and other nations. Eight pirates detained by a Royal Navy vessel were recently jailed there for 20 years, and most diplomats agree that an African prison is likely to be more of a deterrent than a Dutch one. But in April, the Kenyan government announced it would not be accepting any more, amid concerns about overloading the system and the fallout of becoming the ”Pirate Guantanamo Bay”.Which means that people like my old friend Fraisal will no doubt continue to find piracy an attractive career option, offering as it does fairly reasonable odds in the lottery of life. If they don’t get a share in a multimillion-dollar ransom, the worst they risk is a slap on the wrist from a foreign navy. Or – if they are really lucky – the chance to start a new life in Europe.As I left the court, I couldn’t help wondering whether the Rotterdam Five might prove to be the luckiest pirates on the high seas – and whether, one of these days, I might get that knock on the door from Fraisal.Telegraph, London, and AAP
南京夜网

Accused tried to kill girls with car, police say

A MAN has admitted he tried to kill two schoolgirls with the car he was driving so police would stop pursuing him after a violent rampage through western Sydney, a court was told.Charlie McGee, 24, has been charged with four counts of attempted murder and 23 other offences after a series of crimes across five suburbs and eight locations over an hour on Wednesday afternoon. Ten people were assaulted or threatened, police said.The attack began with the alleged bashing of a man with a hammer at Lalor Park at 2pm and ended after the pursuit in Doonside in which Mr McGee allegedly ran into the two girls aged 14 and seven.Police documents tendered to Blacktown Local Court yesterday said he admitted he did so deliberately, aiming to kill the girls so the chase would be called off.The pursuit continued and Mr Gee was arrested a short time later. The girls suffered only minor injuries.While reluctant to discuss pursuit policy yesterday, Superintendent Mark Wright, from Blacktown police said the decision to continue the chase was in the community’s best interest.”We have to ask if police didn’t intervene at that point, bearing in mind the history and circumstances leading up to it, who is to say this individual was not going to drive through that school zone and target individuals?” Superintendent Wright said.”That posed a greater risk and that’s the balance that police have to decide at a split second.”The Minister for Police, Michael Daley, said pursuits were necessary to send a message ”that criminals will not evade arrest by putting the foot on the accelerator pedal”.The Greens MP Sylvia Hale said the harsher penalties now available under a recently introduced law encouraged people to try harder to evade police. ”It was more good luck than good management that no one was killed,” she said.Police allege Mr McGee had admitted that if he had been armed with a gun ”he would have killed multiple persons during his rampage”.Mr McGee is also accused of stealing a ute and trying to violently take four other vehicles.He is also alleged to have pulled over and asked a 65-year-old man to look under the ute for any damage. When he bent over, Mr McGee allegedly hit him with the ute. He suffered minor injuries.The ute was dumped at the McDonald’s restaurant in Woodcroft, where Mr McGee allegedly stole a Toyota Paseo from a TAFE student, Jonxha Fejzullahu.”I was afraid for my life …” Ms Fejzullahu said. ”It could have been a lot worse. I could have died … I’m very lucky.”A psychiatrist told the court Mr McGee had shown ”psychotic symptoms” and was a risk to himself and others. Mr McGee did not apply for bail and is due in court again on August 13.
南京夜网