VIDEO: US may fight Gulf oil spill for years, says Obama

America will be fighting the Gulf of Mexico oil spill “epidemic” for months, even years, US President Barack Obama warned today, as he accused oil giant BP of “recklessness”.

In the first Oval Office address of his presidency, Mr Obama said he would order BP to set up an independent claims fund and swore not to rest until it had paid for the damage to lives, businesses and shorelines.

Mr Obama, who is determined to hold BP accountable for the largest environmental disaster in US history, said it was time to embrace a ”clean energy future”.

Eleven workers died in the deep-sea explosion on April 20, which set the oil spill in motion.

Pledging to do “whatever’s necessary” to return the Gulf to its natural state, Mr Obama also urged the world’s biggest consumer of fossil fuels to respond to the disaster by accelerating its transformation to renewable clean energy.

“We cannot consign our children to [an oil-dependent] future,” Mr Obama said. “The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now.

“Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny.”

The President warned that rehabilitation of the Gulf would take years given the nature of the disaster.

“Unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it is not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.

“But make no mistake: we will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.”

Mr Obama, who has been fighting public perception that his administration was slow to respond to the catastrophe, said he was committed to a massive clean-up and compensation operation. Plans were unveiled this week for a special fund for compensating victims into which BP could ultimately pay $US20 billion.

He repeated that the National Commission investigating the leak would determine its cause and recommend measures to prevent a recurrence.

It was the first time the President has used the Oval Office to address the nation, a practice resorted to by presidents typically in times of war or national distress.

Former president George Bush addressed the nation from the White House on the evening of the September 11, terrorist attacks. The last time a president chose an Oval Office address to talk about energy issues was in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter outlined a range of measures to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, a goal that failed miserably.

Oil has gushed freely from the BP-operated oil well since April 20 when the Deepwater Horizon rig caught fire after an explosion, and sank two days later.

It has flowed into the sea at an estimated rate of between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels a day, paralysing the fishing and tourism industries of Louisiana and disrupting communities along several hundred kilometres of coastline through Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

“The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face,” Mr Obama said. “This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again.

“What sees us through – what has always seen us through – is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it.

“Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day.”

Source: theage南京夜网.au

Inglis sticks to colours

Greg Inglis has a blunt message for those questioning the motives behind his move to shun his native NSW in preference of Queensland: ”Just move on”.

Inglis’s decision to represent the Maroons four years ago has been thrust into the spotlight this week, with details emerging that he was motivated by the belief that Queensland provided indigenous players with greater opportunities than NSW.

The revelations followed Andrew Johns’s description of Inglis as a ”black c—” in an address to NSW centre Beau Scott ahead of tonight’s Origin II clash at Suncorp Stadium – a rant that prompted Timana Tahu to walk out on the the Blues training camp in protest.

Last night, NRL Indigenous Council board member Sol Bellear alleged that Johns had also described other Queensland players in derogatory terms.

The Kempsey-born, Bowraville-raised Inglis would not be drawn on the specifics behind his decision to represent Queensland – ”There’s a long story behind it but I don’t want to get into it” – but told NSW in no uncertain terms he would not be changing his mind.

”They can whinge all they want to,” Inglis told the Herald. ”In the end, I’m sticking to my colours and that’s the way I am. I definitely think they should just get over it and move on. I hear they’re still going on about it but I’m not changing my mind and I never will.

”I’m a Queenslander. There’s no doubt about it. My family couldn’t be happier. If they’re happy with it, I’m even happier.”

The controversy surrounding Johns, Tahu and Inglis has provided a fiery backdrop to tonight’s Origin clash – a match NSW must win to avoid a fifth consecutive series defeat.

Inglis, an unwitting component of the furore within the Blues’ camp, moved to Brisbane as a teenager and was eligible for both states. Anthony Mundine, a close friend of Inglis, told the Herald this week that race was a motivating factor behind Inglis’s final decision to represent the Maroons. The claim that NSW provided fewer opportunities to indigenous footballers than Queensland was disputed by Geoff Carr, the chief executive of the NSWRL, but Mundine insisted ”[Inglis] wanted to play for Queensland because that is where they give the boys a go.”

Bellear, meanwhile, has spoken to members of Tahu’s family and believes Johns’s racist outburst extended beyond Inglis and involved more offensive slurs than initially reported.

”I spoke to senior members of Timana’s family and that is my understanding,” Bellear said last night. ”It wasn’t just about Greg Inglis, either.”

Bellear urged other Blues players to speak out about Johns’s rant, and called for an inquiry into the way NSW team management had handled the situation. ”This isn’t a vendetta against Johns, this is a vendetta against racism,” he said.

Johns’s management last night refuted Bellear’s claims.

Winnie gold: Reid rescues Kiwis

New Zealand 1 Slovakia 1

From villain to hero, Winston Reid did for New Zealand what no one could do for Australia.

Even better, his last-gasp header gave the All Whites a point – their first at a World Cup. History was made as honours were even against Slovakia, who had assumed, with some justification, that they had done enough to win the game.

It was Reid who was culpable as the Slovaks took the lead, but how he redeemed himself. A player with a Maori background and Danish parentage has united a nation, not that New Zealand hasn’t been right behind the All Whites. After this famous, almost unbelievable, result, watch the euphoria build. Incredible.

A journey into the unknown looked like it would have a premature ending until the 93rd minute of an arm-wrestle of a match. But then Shane Smeltz, perhaps feeling guilty after squandering a gilt-edged opportunity, whipped in a peach of a cross, and there was Reid, muscling his way to get on the end of it.

The Socceroos rolled up their tent against the Germans, but the All Whites refused to lay down against the Slovaks. A huge gulf in quality in terms of the opposition, granted. But there is a moral to this story. Don’t get caught up in the hype.

Now New Zealand have given themselves a hope, however slim, of achieving the impossible dream. Getting past the group stage. Paraguay and Italy will offer much sterner tests than the modestly endowed Slovaks. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

“This is the biggest stage in the world for football and that has to be the most important goal of my life,” Reid said.

“If you look at the smiles on the guys’ faces, that says it all.

“I thought their goal was offside but they made it tough for us in the second half. So to come back and get the equaliser is a fantastic feeling.”

New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert hailed the point as the greatest result in the rugby-mad country’s football history.

“We came across with the intention to make a difference and we certainly did that against a highly rated team,” said Herbert.

“We are very, very proud. You would have to say this is our best ever result. We have never picked up a point in a World Cup before. We have come and thrown some extremely good punches and got what I thought was a fully deserved result.”

Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss described the late equaliser as a “small sporting tragedy for us.”

“During the match we were the better team, it is just a pity we did not take the opportunities we had.

“The mood in the dressing room is very sad but that is football. We have to cope with the sadness and I hope we will perform well in the next match.”

Ultimately, route one offered the avenue to goal for both teams and that will especially frustrate Weiss, who had clearly done his homework. By pushing three up-front as much as possible, he made it man-for-man against the New Zealand defence, forcing either Tony Lochhead or Leo Bertos to tuck in. Bertos, a danger man, was double-teamed by Marek Cech and Erik Jendrisek whenever he got the ball. And as the All Whites, predictably, lumped long balls into Rory Fallon, it was Slovakia’s tallest defender, Jan Durica, who muscled up.

New Zealand didn’t have too many ideas, but they did have a solution, even if it arrived late. Slow starters, but strong finishers. That the first half had been one of the poorest of the tournament so far wouldn’t have worried the All Whites one bit.

True, there were a few anxious moments, some involving keeper Mark Paston misreading the flight of the ball or, in one case, making an awful mess of a clearance. But the key for Herbert was that after six months of hype, and no doubt serious pre-match nerves, his team had a platform. Some encouraging signs from set pieces and reason to believe.

We’re not in Lennox any more … chasers hit US in hunt for tornadoes

THE six chasers had waited in position for most of the day, just outside the giant hail and rain, buffeted by 55km/h winds screaming into the base of the ”supercell” thunderstorm, feeding its explosive appetite.Then just after sunset, a huge cone forced its way downwards, out of the cloud base, unmistakable even in the low light. It was a large tornado, carving out a path on the Colorado high plains.”We had almost given up and then there it was, tornado,” said Jimmy Deguara, one of a growing number of Australian storm chasers making the pilgrimage to America each year to witness the incredible show.”It’s called Tornado Alley for a reason. It’s the ultimate in chasing, the pinnacle,” Mr Deguara, a high-school teacher in western Sydney, said.A storm chaser for 17 years, Mr Deguara has spent almost every season of the past decade studying severe weather in the US and then bringing his expertise home.He was, for example, able to alert the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to the October 2007 tornado in Dunoon, on the NSW north coast, which blew out the walls of a church, tore the roofs off about 20 homes and caused a power substation to explode, leaving 3000 homes without power.Mr Deguara and five other Australian storm spotters went to the US this month to further hone their forecasting skills.Michael Bath, a forecaster with the Australian Early Warning Network, which provides alerts on severe weather and natural disasters, said US storms were ”on a whole new level”.”It just seemed that everything was perfect for tornadic thunderstorms day after day, the size and scale and how quickly it all happened was awesome,” he said.The Bureau of Meteorology relies heavily on storm spotters – there are about 2000 in Australia – and its severe weather warning service is one of the bureau’s highest priorities.While they are not as intense or as frequent as the tornadoes in the US, the bureau believes they occur more frequently in NSW than people are aware.However, because they often develop in sparsely populated areas, it is difficult to obtain accurate data, with only 383 tornadoes recorded in NSW from 1795 to December 2007. Eight people have died due to tornadoes since 1918.The twister that tore through Lennox Head this month, demolishing homes and flipping caravans, showed only the destructive ability of a weak tornado.The tornado is yet to be classified on the Fujita scale, which rates a tornado’s intensity between EF1 and EF5, based on the amount of damage it inflicts on man-made structures.An EF5 may leave only the concrete foundations of solid buildings and scour asphalt off roads.The only EF5 tornado recorded in Australia was in NSW on January 1, 1970, which left a trail of damage 22 kilometres long and 1.6 kilometres wide through Bulahdelah State Forest, destroying 1 million trees.When these supercell thunderstorms become organised they can produce powerful straight-line winds called microbursts, giant or ”gorilla” hail more than 10 centimetres in diameter and a tornado which can produce winds at speeds of more than 400km/h.They are like an engine in the sky, with a complex system of moving updrafts, downdrafts, inflow and outflow.A tornado is thought to form when horizontal rotation in the atmosphere created by wind sheer above the supercell is bent vertically towards the ground.

When it comes to size, our brains can’t handle the truth

YOU may think you know the back of your hand like, well, the back of your hand. But scientists have found our brains contain distorted representations of the size and shape of our hands, with a tendency to think of them as shorter and fatter than they are.The work could have implications for how the brain unconsciously perceives other parts of the body and may help explain certain eating disorders in which body image becomes distorted.Neuroscientists at University College London asked more than 100 volunteers to place their left hand palm-down on a table. The researchers then covered the hands with a board and asked the volunteers to indicate where landmarks such as fingertips lay. This data was used to reconstruct the ”brain’s image” of the hand.The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed a consistent overestimation of the width of the hand, with many thinking their hand was about 80 per cent broader than it was. ”It’s a dramatic and highly consistent bias,” said Matthew Longo, from UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.The brain uses several ways to work out the location of different parts of the body, including feedback from muscles and joints and some sort of internal model of the size and shape of each part. ”Previously it has been assumed that the brain uses an accurate model of the body,” said Dr Longo. Instead,Dr Longo’s work shows that the brain’s models can be incorrect.Regions of high sensitivity in the skin, such as the fingertips and the lips, get a larger proportion of the brain’s territory. Dr Longo said this sensitivity was mirrored in the size of the fingers in the maps of perceived positions. ”You find the least underestimation for the thumb and more underestimation as you go across to the little finger.”He said the research showed how the brain’s ability to distort the body might underlie conditions such as anorexia nervosa.Guardian News & Media

Teacher jailed for sex abuse at elite school

A FORMER teacher who sexually abused students at Knox Grammar School will spend up to 4½⁄ years behind bars, with the judge who jailed him warning that ”no child is to be viewed by a teacher as a sexual opportunity”.Sentencing Craig Treloar yesterday, District Court judge Colin Charteris said his criminal activity had tarnished the reputation of the exclusive Wahroonga school.”He took advantage of children,” the judge said. ”He was their teacher. He had a position of trust. He abused that trust for his own sexual gratification.”Treloar, 50, has been in protective custody since his arrest in February last year. He shook uncontrollably as he was given a minimum two-year term.Treloar told the court he ”didn’t know anything else, other than how to be a teacher”. As a convicted child sex offender, he will be banned from working with children.His world revolved around Knox, where he was a student and, later, a highly regarded teacher, sports coach and boarding master. For more than 20 years he knew his crimes would come to light. He was arrested after two of his victims contacted police early last year.Treloar confessed to police but felt ”no sense of relief, because what I’ve done cannot be repaired”. He admitted offences, including indecent assault, against four students aged 11 to 13. They took place between 1984 and 1987 in his dorm room, while he showed the boys pornographic videos.Court documents reveal Treloar had indecent dealings with at least one other student who, the Herald understands, did not wish to pursue a complaint. Treloar was not charged over those matters.The court heard Treloar admitted showing students pornographic videos when confronted in late 1987 by the then headmaster, Ian Paterson. He was suspended from teaching for six months.Judge Charteris was not critical of Dr Paterson, saying Treloar did not reveal the extent of his inappropriate behaviour, such as engaging in sexual activity with students and showing films depicting bestiality and homosexual sex with underage boys.He accepted Treloar committed no offences after 1987 and was genuinely remorseful.Treloar was the first of five teachers charged over the alleged sexual abuse of former Knox students. Three have pleaded guilty, while two remain before the courts.In court, two of Treloar’s victims detailed the shadow of the abuse. As a 12-year-old, one fell asleep praying he would not wake up and vomited every morning before school.Judge Charteris said it was apparent the abuse had long-lasting effects and admired the victims’ courage in exposing it.One father told the Herald his son would phone home, insisting: ”I just want to die.” No sentence could give his son back ”24 years of an absolutely hellish life”, the man said.

Paedophile sighting stirs unrest for poll

FOR weeks the campaigning before Saturday’s Penrith byelection has focused on the resignation of the local Labor MP, Karyn Paluzzano, traffic matters and the safety of a local bridge.Suddenly, the candidates have been given something else to ponder: what to do about Dennis Ferguson.Reports that Mr Ferguson, a 61-year-old convicted paedophile who was hounded from his previous place of residence in Ryde by vigilante resident groups after his release from prison, has been ”spotted” in the Penrith area surfaced late last week.Penrith’s police commander, Superintendent Ben Feszczuk, told a local newspaper on Monday: ”I have not been consulted about it and I have not been given any information. I’m not saying it’s false. I’ve got no knowledge of his presence here or anywhere else.”However, the rumours were given some legitimacy when they were posted on the official Facebook page of the Liberal candidate, Stuart Ayres. ”Chase the f—ing grub out of town guys!” one poster urged.Another directed readers to a Facebook group featuring comments urging violence against Mr Ferguson.Mr Ayres said he had learned of the rumours on Facebook and in the media and had called the local area command yesterday.”They confirmed with me the reports in the media [but said] they are not aware of him being in the area,” he said.”Facebook is there for people to get in touch with me, raise issues and where I can follow up on their inquiries, and that’s what I have done in this case.”The Labor candidate, John Thain, said: ”If Dennis Ferguson is in Penrith or the Lower Blue Mountains, I will do everything in my power to ensure the Housing Minister knows my views [he] has no place in my community.”As a father, I am sickened by the sheer idea of his presence.”However, Brett Collins, who has defended Mr Ferguson from previous attacks by residents’ groups, dismissed the concerns.”The reality of it is that he is safe and sound and with us a lot of the time.”There is no reason for him not to be in Penrith. He’s got friends out there as well as in Ryde. There’s no reason to be concerned.”

Too much easy living is dumbing down our pampered pooches

THE owners of pampered pets have a lot to answer for. Domestic dogs have become so dependent on humans, they can no longer pass simple intelligence tests or solve problems which their counterparts in the wild find easy.Homeless dogs seek food from rubbish dumps or garbage bins, rather than hunt for it, they struggle to find food hidden in a maze, and have learnt to look to humans first, rather than making an effort to help themselves, says Bradley Smith, a psychologist.He studied dingoes living at the Dingo Discovery Centre, in Victoria, and found that even those socialised to be around humans were significantly faster and smarter than dogs.When the dingoes were made to travel around a transparent barrier to find food, all achieved the task in about 10 seconds, Mr Smith said. Some quickly found trapdoors which made the journey to the food shorter.But previous studies on dogs carrying out the same task showed that many failed to find a way to the bowl. Some pawed at the fence, dug at it or barked at their owners for help. Many looked confused. Closing trapdoors that had previously been open made the dogs even more puzzled, indicating they were not able to quickly adapt to a change in circumstance, Mr Smith said.In other tests, dogs and wolves were shown to behave in very different ways when confronted with unsolvable problems. After both had been taught to retrieve food by pulling on a rope or opening a bin, the task was changed so that the rope could not be pulled and the bin could not be opened.Dogs gazed at their owners standing behind them, while the socialised wolves ignored their owners. During the study, seven of the nine dogs looked back at the human after trying to obtain the food reward for only about one minute, while only two of the seven wolves looked back at all, instead attempting to solve the task on their own.

Tour de Tweed – when the pedalling is slow and very stylish

IT IS an inspiring sight: a dapper chap sitting erect in the saddle; mutton chops on his cheeks, tweed jacket on his back. The kind of man who prefers capacious plus fours to ghastly crotch-crunching lycra.For this man – or indeed this woman, for she is his sartorial equal – cycling is a languid pleasure, not a bug-eyed adrenalin rush.Impelled not by performance-enhancing drugs and a cash prize, but sandwiches and the vivifying contents of a hip flask, these retro riders tip their woollen caps to a simpler age before derailleur gears made cycling so horribly competitive.”We travel at a leisurely pace and enjoy ourselves,” said Susan Goodwin, 32, one of the organisers of Sydney’s Tweed Ride. ”There’s simply more drama and poetry in the old style of riding. And people really dress up. Last year we had people sticking their heads out of cars in George Street shouting ‘you look fantastic!”’The first Tweed Ride was held in London in January last year, the brainchild of an online cycling forum devoted to ”fixies” or fixed-wheel bicycles. The idea caught on quickly. Paris, Tokyo, Boston and San Francisco are among cities that have hosted the rides for hundreds of cyclists in tweedy attire traversing the inner-city at a leisurely pace.Sydney’s first Tweed Ride last year attracted about 70 people. Organisers are hoping this year’s event, which departs from Town Hall at 9am (free registration from 8am) on Sunday, June 27, will be much bigger. The 90-minute ride finishes in Alexandria with a brisk game of bicycle polo. Prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed man and woman, and the most elegant couple or duo.Naomi Morris, resplendent in a herringbone blazer, crochet vest, vintage blouse and brooch, is a fan of vintage bikes as well as vintage fashion. Not that you need to own a period bike to enter a Tweed Ride. A brand-new mountain bike is fine as long as you dress up to the nines and enter into the spirit of the event.Ms Morris, 29, loves the easy pace – ”I call it tootling” – and the friendly atmosphere. And she didn’t find it at all hard to put her tweed outfit together.For more information go to www.sydneycyclist南京夜网

Injecting room in pre-election focus

THE NSW government is set to expedite a decision on the future of the controversial medically supervised injecting centre at Kings Cross before next year’s election, with an independent evaluation due to be handed to the Deputy Premier and Health Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, next month.The licence for the centre, which has operated on a trial basis since its establishment nine years ago following the NSW Drug Summit under former premier Bob Carr, is not due for renewal until October 31, 2011 – seven months after the state election in March.However, the NSW health department has spent $240,000 ordering an independent report from consultant KPMG on whether the centre is achieving its objectives.The report, according to the contract summary, is to ”consider the efficiency and effectiveness of the MSIC since the trial was extended in June 2007 … against the government’s stated objectives for the trial”.A statutory review of the centre by NSW Health, which legislation dictates must be completed by May 2011, is under way.The government has supported the ongoing trial and most recently renewed its licence in 2007 under the former health minister Reba Meagher.To the end of February 2010, more than 3500 drug overdoses had been successfully managed at the centre without a fatality, according to its medical director, Dr Marianne Jauncey.The Coalition has said if it is elected there would be a conscience vote on the issue.Unlike two previous reviews, the job of evaluating the centre was put out to tender. The public health experts who conducted the previous reviews declined to participate.Professor John Kaldor, from the University of NSW’s National Centre in HIV Epidemiology & Clinical Research, was involved in the previous reviews. He said yesterday the group felt it was no longer necessary to question the centre’s right to exist.”It seemed to us that to continue looking at it as a trial was not ideal from a public health point of view, to keep looking for an answer to the question of ‘Is this working?”’ he said. ”The case seemed to have been made in general terms.”The Reverend Harry Herbert, executive director of Uniting Care, the licensed operator of the centre, called for an end to the trial status.The licensing should be in ”the hands of the director-general of the department of health and the NSW police commissioner,” he told the Herald. ”It’s not as if the centre will be unaccountable … but we wouldn’t require a change to the Act every time the licence period is extended”.The centre’s founding medical director, Ingrid van Beek, was on Monday made a Member of the Order of Australia partly in recognition of her work in establishing the centre.A spokesman for Ms Tebbutt said the statutory review had ”recently commenced”. He declined to comment on whether Ms Tebbutt would make a decision about the centre’s future before the election.He said the NSW Health report must be tabled according to legislation but Ms Tebbutt was yet to decide whether to make the KPMG report public.TIMES OF TRIAL1999 NSW Drug Summit recommends the government ”should not veto” proposals for a trial of injecting centres to address street drug use2001 Medically supervised injecting centre opens in Kings Cross2007 Licence renewed for a further four years, but trial status maintained2009 State government commissions KPMG