Parma put out of their misery with 4-0 defeat

Posted on: April 7th, 2019 by
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Parma had done their best to go down with dignity and a sudden upturn in form, including a shock 1-0 win over runaway leaders Juventus, suggested an unlikely escape act was possible.

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But those hopes were scuppered two weeks ago when they had four more points deducted for breaching Serie A financial regulations, on top of the three they had taken away earlier in the season.

This campaign has also seen former president Giampietro Manenti, arrested in a money-laundering probe last month the day before the club was declared bankrupt, and director Pietro Leonardi banned for six months each.

Second-placed Lazio, chasing a Champions League place next season, finished the job by scoring three goals in six minutes early in the game.

Marco Parolo netted against his old club with a curling long-range shot, former Germany forward Miroslav Klose scrambled the ball in from close range and Antonio Candreva sprung the offside trap for the third.

Keita Balde added the fourth eight minutes from time.

“We will digest a very difficult season in which many negative things have happened off the field,” Parma coach Roberto Donadoni told reporters.

“Tonight, we were found wanting and we were a bit overwhelmed. We played below our possibilities.”

Former Italy midfielder and coach Donadoni took over at Parma in January 2012 and pulled them clear of the relegation zone.

He built a competitive side and led them to an impressive sixth place in Serie A last season, only for them to miss out on the Europa League because of financial problems.

Wednesday’s defeat left them bottom of the table with 11 points from 33 games, 16 adrift of safety with five matches left.

Parma have changed hands twice this season and, at one point, were forced to postpone two games because they could not pay for stewards or security.

They were only able to complete the season after the Italian federation set up a special fund.

They have also had property confiscated by bailiffs including a bench used Donadoni.

Parma have never won Serie A but lifted two UEFA Cups in 1995 and 1999, the 1993 European Cup Winners’ Cup and three Italian Cups in a successful spell between 1992 and 2002.

“We need to learn from all these negative things that happened off the football field but also from the positive things we have done recently,” Donadoni added.

“It’s been a complicated season.”

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Ed Osmond)


The Bali Nine: Where are they now?

Posted on: April 7th, 2019 by
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Myuran Sukumaran, 34

THEN: Sukumaran was a uni drop-out working in a Sydney mailroom when the opportunity for a “big pay cheque” – the Bali Nine plan – came up.

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NOW: Executed by the Indonesian government on April 29 despite the please for clemency from family, lawyers and the Australian government. Sukumaran had lobbied for better rehabilitation options for prisoners, including an art studio and T-shirt screen printing room, where he spends much of his time teaching and studying for a fine arts degree by correspondence.

Andrew Chan, 31

THEN: Chan was the self-confessed black sheep of his Sydney family. He and Sukumaran both went to Homebush Boys High School, a few years apart.

NOW: Executed by the Indonesian government on April 29 despite the please for clemency from family, lawyers and the Australian government. Chan embraced Christianity in prison and was involved in pastoral care for the prison community. He also started first aid and cooking classes, and is trying to launch hospitality courses for inmates.

Chan’s workmates:Matthew Norman, 28

THEN: Norman lived in Quakers Hill, Sydney, and worked at the Eurest catering group where Chan worked. He was the youngest member of the Bali Nine.

NOW: Serving life at Kerobokan. Norman had always been into sport and tries to stay fit behind bars. In a 2011 interview, he described Chan and Sukumaran as “nice people, to me, they’re just friends”.

Renae Lawrence, 37

THEN: Lawrence, of Wallsend, in Newcastle’s west, also worked at Eurest. She was down on her luck, having broken up with her partner, and had money troubles.

NOW: Serving 20 years in Bangli, Bali. Lawrence was moved out of Kerobokan jail after her plot to kill a prison guard was discovered. She has since been rewarded reductions to her sentence for good behaviour and may soon be eligible to seek parole.

Martin Stephens, 39

THEN: From Wollongong, former barman Stephens worked at Eurest and took part in the Bali Nine operation as a mule with Lawrence.

NOW: Serving life at Malang, east Java. He also turned to Christianity in prison and in 2011, married Christine Puspayanti, a woman who had visited Kerobokan with a church group.

Si Yi Chen, 29

THEN: It’s unclear how Chen, from Sydney, met Chan and Sukumaran. His role in the Bali Nine it seems was running errands for them.

NOW: Serving life in Kerobokan, he has learned to be a silversmith and his designs reflect his devotion to the practice of Taoism.

The QueenslandersTan Duc Than Nguyen, 31

THEN: Nguyen lived in bayside Brisbane with his family, who ran a bakery. He recruited Rush and Czugaj into the Nine on a night out in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.

NOW: Serving life in Malang, east Java. He has never given a media interview. He was moved out of Kerobokan with Stephens last year, to ease overcrowding.

Matthew Czugaj, 29

THEN: Czugaj, from Brisbane’s southwest, was working as a glazier. He met Rush playing football in high school and had never been overseas before the trip to Bali.

NOW: Serving life in Kerobokan. He has suffered mental and physical ailments in jail. In 2010, his mother revealed she had been sending him money in the realisation she was funding his heroin habit.

Scott Rush, 29

THEN: Rush, from a riverside Brisbane suburb, was applying to enter the RAAF before he agreed to go on the trip to Bali. His father Lee suspected his rebellious son was in trouble. The AFP was tipped off but did not intervene.

NOW: Serving life in Karangasem, Bali. Rush is also recovering from drug addiction and has proposed marriage to his girlfriend, London banker Nikki Butler.


Debate needed on death penalty: Joyce

Posted on: April 7th, 2019 by
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Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has called for a national debate on the death penalty.

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Mr Joyce said some members of the Australian public support capital punishment.

“I do get approached by people saying, `Well that might be your view, Barnaby, that you don’t support the death penalty, but it’s not our view’.”, he told ABC TV.

Mr Joyce declined to speculate on the likelihood that Indonesia might cut cattle quotas in retaliation of Australia withdrawing its ambassador following the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

It was a matter for the Indonesian government, he said.

Two way trade between Australia and Indonesia is worth $14.4 billion.

Cattle farmers are concerned their sector could be hit hard again after bouncing back from a 2011 live cattle export ban.

The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association chief Tracey Hayes says Indonesia is one of the biggest markets for its live animal exports.

The group understood the difficult political situation and will be watching the government’s move intently.

“We understand the sensitivities involved and we’re respectful of that,” she told ABC radio.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary foreign affairs committee will seek a meeting with Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia, Paul Grigson, upon his return to Canberra.

The Australian Federal Police’s role in tipping off their Indonesian counterparts to the Bali Nine drug ring is also likely to be re-examined at upcoming Senate estimates hearings after the May federal budget.

Government Whip Andrew Nikolic said police guidelines had been reviewed under the previous government.

“They’ve been applied consistently ever since,” he told ABC radio.


Backgrounder: The other Australians on death row

Posted on: April 7th, 2019 by
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Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are the first Australians to be executed overseas in almost a decade.

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In 2005, Melbourne man Van Tuong Nguyen was executed in Singapore for smuggling heroin in a bid to pay off his debts and those of his drug-addict brother. 

The 25-year-old’s tragic story loomed large in the Australian consciousness, dividing the hearts and minds of many across the country.

Where are executions most likely?

“Young foolish people like these young men make mistakes early in life, they should be punished for it,” said Peter Norden, the former Catholic priest who supported Van Nguyen’s family. “But whether or not their lives should be taken away is the question that’s got to be asked.”

Australians on death row today

At present, 37-year-old Pham Trung Dung is on death row for trying to smuggle two suitcases of heroin out of Vietnam.

Henry Chhin was also sentenced to death in 2005 after being caught attempting to send methamphetamine from China to Australia by post.

Another Australian man, Ibrahim Jalloh, was caught trying to smuggle methamphetamine from China to Australia in 2014. He was sentenced to death in April 2015.

Others at risk

DFAT estimates that there are 12 other Australians who could face a similar fate, but the exact number is uncertain.

In a statement to Fairfax Media, DFAT spokesman said the figures were “subject to revision and represent the best of our knowledge.

“As a matter of policy we do not disclose the names or locations of these consular clients,” the spokesman said.

That number includes Sydney grandmother Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, who was caught at Kuala Lumpur airport in 2014 allegedly carrying methamphetamine. If convicted, the 52-year-old could face the death penalty. She denies the allegations and is reportedly due to face court today (April 30).

Another Australian set to face court soon is 25-year-old Peter Gardner, who has been held in a Chinese jail since he was stopped at Baiyun Airport for allegedly trying to export 30 kilograms of ice. Mr Gardner was travelling with a woman named Kalynda Davis who he had met weeks before on a dating website. Ms Davis was released after four weeks in jail and has since returned to Australia.

Mr Gardner’s case has been reportedly been brought forward and is now set to be heard on May 7. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

DFAT has declined to comment further on these cases.

History

Melbourne man Van Tuong Nguyen was hanged in Singapore in 2005. Before he was killed, the Australian government considered taking Singapore to the International Court of Justice to challenge the death penalty, but decided against it.

In 1993, Australian man Michael McAuliffe was hanged in Malaysia for heroin possession after numerous appeals failed.

In 1986, heroin traffickers Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were hanged in Malaysia too amid a public outcry here and political uproar.

At that time, Chambers and Barlow were the first non-Asians executed in the country since World War II.

The first recorded executions of Australians were in 1902 when Harry “The Breaker” Morant and Peter Hancock faced the firing squad for alleged war crimes in South Africa.


 

He was hanged on December 2, 2005 in Singapore after being caught in 2002 at Changi Airport with almost 400g of heroin.

Michael Mcauliffe, 38, Rockhampton, Queensland

He was hanged on June 19, 1993 in Malaysia after being caught in 1985 with 142g of heroin at Penang Airport.

Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers, 28 and 29, Perth

Chambers and Barlow were hanged on July 7, 1986 in Malaysia after being caught at Penang Airport in 1983 with 400g of heroin.

Andrew Chan, 31, Sydney

A member of the Bali Nine, he was shot by firing squad on April 29, 2015 on Nusakambangan island in Indonesia for his part in a 2005 plot to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin to Australia.

Myuran Sukumaran, 34, Sydney

A member of the Bali Nine, he was shot by firing squad on April 29, 2015 on Nusakambangan island in Indonesia for his part in a 2005 plot to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin to Australia.

Australians on death row

Pham Trung Dung, 37

He was sentenced to death in 2014 in Vietnam after being caught carrying more than 4kg of heroin boarding a flight to Australia from Ho Chi Minh City in 2013. 

Henry Chin, 35

He was sentenced to death in 2005 after being caught attempting to send methamphetamine from China to Australia by post. The sentence was suspended for two years. His fate is unknown.

Ibrahim Jalloh

He was convicted and sentenced to death (suspended for 2 years) in April 2015 in China for methamphetamine trafficking. This sentence can be commuted to life with good behaviour in prison. 

Australians spared

Bali Nine members Si Yi Chen, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Norman and Scott Rush were initially sentenced to death and had their sentenced commuted to life in prison.

Find out more

– with AAP 


Pacquiao ‘100 percent relaxed and confident’ for bout

Posted on: April 7th, 2019 by
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A 2-1 underdog, the Filipino southpaw told reporters at the MGM Grand on Wednesday that he had regained the sense of anticipation he had for fights a decade ago, though he was reluctant to give a prediction about the outcome.

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“I don’t have a prediction,” Pacquiao smiled as he spoke in a small interview room before joining Mayweather and their respective camps at the MGM Grand for their final pre-fight news conference.

“I am excited and confident. It’s the first time I have felt like this before a fight in a long time. The killer instinct, the feeling and the focus I have is like 10 years ago.

“For some of my previous fights I never feel this, but now it is different. I am 100 percent relaxed and confident. It’s a good feeling.”

Pacquiao, who has a 57-5-2 record with 38 knockouts, is expected to earn over $100 million from a bout predicted to be the biggest-grossing prize fight of all time but hoped he would make a much bigger impact through his own life story.

The 36-year-old boxer, an adored figure in the Philippines, left home at 14 to help support his mother and her six children and, for a while, he lived on the streets.

“I can’t imagine the boy who was starving and sleeping on the street has become what I am now. It is beyond my imagination,” said the eight-time world champion.

“The most important thing is … to give inspiration to people around the world that there is a god who can make someone like me from nothing into something.”

The long awaited megabout has been over five years in the making and several obstacles had to be overcome before it became a reality.

Negotiations for a 2010 fight collapsed over the American’s demand for random drug testing and Mayweather has often hinted at illegal methods by questioning how Pacquiao could have won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight classes.

“I feel like I am the one who really wants this fight to happen,” said the Filipino. “For me, it’s about how we can make the fans happy. They are paying big money … so they deserve to have a good fight.”

(Editing by Frank Pingue)


Recalling ambassador to Indonesia ‘wrong’

Posted on: April 7th, 2019 by
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As Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia heads home in protest over the execution of two Australians, former ambassadors to Jakarta say the government has taken the wrong approach.

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John McCarthy, who served in Jakarta from 1997-2000, says Australia should have kept its ambassador in place so communication could continue.

Philip Flood, ambassador to Indonesia from 1989-93 and also head of the foreign affairs department, says he would not have recalled the ambassador.

But since the decision has already been made, any withdrawal should be for only a short time, he says.

Former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr also says the ambassador should have remained in place to pursue Australia’s interests.

“To pluck our ambassador out of the heart of Jakarta simply means we haven’t got the clout and this whole agenda could slide away,” he said.

Recalling an ambassador for consultations is a longstanding means of expressing strong disapproval of a particular nation.

Only hours after the execution of drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said ambassador Paul Grigson would be recalled for consultations.

Mr Flood said Australia’s decision to remove the ambassador would certainly have an impact.

Australia had only done this twice before, he said.

“We did it in the case of French nuclear tests in the Pacific and it was hardly noticed at all. We did it the case of Fiji and that really did more damage to us than it did to Fiji,” he said.

Mr McCarthy said Indonesia had dismissed Australia’s representations on behalf of Chan and Sukumaran, leaving it with no choice but to express its displeasure.

However this should have been done by halting all bilateral ministerial visits while executions continued, or for the rest of the year, he said.


Halves options running out for Manly

Posted on: March 7th, 2019 by
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Manly are running out of options to replace outgoing halves Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans, with coach Geoff Toovey admitting their successors are unlikely to come from within the NRL club.

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Rookie Gold Coast playmaker Kane Elgey joined teammate Aidan Sezer in rejecting overtures from the Sea Eagles in recommitting to the Titans on Tuesday.

Sezer signed a three-year deal with Canberra earlier this month.

With representative halves Cherry-Evans and Foran committing to Gold Coast and Parramatta respectively from 2016 onwards, the cupboard is bare at Brookvale.

Off-contract playmakers James Maloney, Trent Hodkinson and Chris Sandow remain options for Manly.

Out-of-favour Canberra pivot Mitch Cornish could be another target for Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey, as could junior Kangaroo Jackson Hastings amid whispers he could leave Sydney Roosters.

Jack Littlejohn played five games in the halves for Manly last year, but hasn’t featured in 2015 and doesn’t look to be in the club’s future plans.

A worst case scenario for Manly would be a failure to secure at least one experienced playmaker for 2016.

“At this stage I can’t see anyone at the club that stands out to play that (playmaking) role (next year),” Toovey said.

“But I know Jamie Lyon played five-eighth in a (Manly) side that won the (2008) grand final 40-0 so there are some options there but we are trying to secure some quality options before that happens.

“It would be a tough ask to throw two inexperienced halves in there to replace both Cherry-Evans and Foran but again it is not out of the question.

“I wouldn’t want to put a time frame on it but we are actively involved in trying to sign key players.”

One plus for Manly is the retention of young gun brothers Tom and Jake Trbojevic who have extended their deals until the end of 2017.

There is hope the highly-touted youngsters will have a similar impact at the Sea Eagles as the Stewart brothers Glenn and Brett have had before them.

“I never want to compare people, (but) the Stewart brothers had considerable input into the success of the club over a long time, and (the Trbojevics) may well provide the same feeling as the Stewart brothers,” Toovey said.


Hayne opens up about new NFL life

Posted on: March 7th, 2019 by
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Some of Jarryd Hayne’s San Francisco 49er teammates weigh 140kg and stand 225cm tall, but they’re a little scared to come to Australia.

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They’ve asked the NRL convert if kangaroos are Australia’s deadliest animals.

They also want to know about the continent’s snakes, spiders and lizards.

“They were saying how they wouldn’t go to Australia because there’s so many dangerous animals,” Hayne, who showed teammates YouTube videos of big red kangaroos fighting, laughed.

Hayne was surrounded by a scrum of Australian and US reporters in the 49ers locker room on Wednesday.

It is the first time Hayne has spoken to the media since arriving at the NFL team’s Santa Clara base, just south of San Francisco, on April 7.

The former Parramatta, NSW and Australia star says he is loving every minute of his NFL experiment.

The days begin at 6am and often he is falling asleep in bed at midnight with a 49er playbook.

The team currently has about 90 players, but that will be cut down to 53 on the eve of the 2015-16 season at the end of August.

Hayne declined to say what he thought his chances were to make the roster or the eight-man practice squad, adding that his focus was to get better each day.

“We are only three weeks in and I’m just taking it day-by-day,” he said.

There was speculation about what position Hayne would play, but he says he’s been training with the running back and special teams squads.

As well as memorising thick play books Hayne the past month has been struggling with the every day problems a new Aussie in the US faces.

There’s the issue of finding a decent cup of coffee and he’s thinking of importing an espresso machine from Australia.

“Coffee is OK,” he smiled.

“(Teammate) Jerome Simpson loves a coffee in the morning and I (said) ‘Mate, if I have a chance to go back I’m going to get an espresso machine.”

There’s also the car problem.

Hayne put out an SOS on Twitter a few weeks ago about tips on leasing a car in San Francisco, but he is still existing with his rental.

And, of course, there’s the Aussie accent.

He has discovered Americans have trouble understanding him, particularly when he uses phrases like “heaps better”.

“I have to speak really slow,” he said.

“I have a tendency to speak pretty fast.”


Mayweather, Pacquiao trade compliments not shots

Posted on: March 7th, 2019 by
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Back in the same room for the first time since March 11 when they came together to promote Saturday’s welterweight championship bout, the two fighters traded compliments rather than jabs and even shared a laugh during the traditional ‘stare-down’ photo opportunity.

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“This fight sells itself, I don’t have to do that,” the undefeated Mayweather (47-0) told reporters of taunting his opponent.

“This fight is not good versus evil, (it’s) one fighter who is at the top going against another fighter at the top.”

Any buzz surrounding the event was sucked out of the glitzy MGM Grand Ka theatre as a dozen other people involved in the fight promotion took turns at the microphone before Mayweather and Pacquiao finally had a chance to speak.

Even Pacquiao manager Freddie Roach, who can normally be counted on for a provocative comment, offered up a bland cliche.

“Floyd, I wish you the best of luck, Manny I wish you the best of luck, may the best man win,” Roach told a wall of over 100 television cameras and hundreds of reporters before quickly taking his seat.

The boxers’ fashion sense was as contrasting as their styles in the ring.

The attacking Pacquiao arrived on stage dressed sharply in a blazer and trousers while Mayweather, recognised as one of the best defensive fighters of all-time, chose his ‘Money Team’ track suit.

But their messages were uniform, with both men thanking God and everyone involved for what is expected to be the biggest grossing prize fight ever.

“It’s nothing personal … just doing our jobs trying to put our names in boxing history,” said Pacquiao.

With Mayweather and Pacquiao subdued, promoters and broadcast giants HBO and Showtime, who share the pay-per-view rights, tried to provide a few fireworks by trumpeting their fighters and all things connected to them as the gold medal standard.

Those shots, however, were mostly duds and Mayweather put the spotlight where it belonged.

“It’s about the two fighters,” he said. “I believe in my skills, I believe I am going to be victorious.

“I went to training camp expecting I was going to win this fight and I’m pretty sure he did the same. It is an intriguing matchup.”

(Editing by Ian Ransom)


RBNZ flags possible rate cut

Posted on: March 7th, 2019 by
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The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has kept the official cash rate unchanged at 3.

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5 per cent at its latest review, but is signalling a cut may be on the cards.

Governor Graeme Wheeler has dropped a reference to the possibility of rate hikes he made last month at the monetary policy statement.

Inflation is sitting at about 0.3 per cent and Mr Wheeler said the timing of future adjustments would depend on inflationary pressures.

“It would be appropriate to lower the OCR if demand weakens, and wage and price-setting outcomes settle at levels lower than is consistent with the inflation target,” he said.

The bank is charged with keeping inflation between one and three per cent target band.

The change of tone from Mr Wheeler was expected after assistant governor John McDermott said last week that the bank isn’t currently considering any increase in rates.

“The bank expects to keep monetary policy stimulatory, and is not currently considering any increase in interest rates,” Mr Wheeler said.

The kiwi dollar dropped to 76.03 US cents from 76.91 cents just before the release.

He said the local economy was continuing to grow at an annual rate of around three per cent.

It was supported by low interest rates, high net immigration and construction activity and declining fuel prices.

But he again pointed to the high NZ dollar providing economic headwinds.

“The New Zealand dollar continues to be unjustifiably high and unsustainable in terms of New Zealand’s long-term economic fundamentals.

“The appreciation in the exchange rate, while our key export prices have been falling, is unwelcome,” he said.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said the odds of an OCR cut may be 50:50.

“At this point we are not explicitly forecasting an OCR cut, but are very close to the line,” he said.