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Rijeka, December 10th 2009.
Aussie soldier wounded in Afghanistan
An Australian soldier has been wounded in Afghanistan during a clash with insurgents. The
soldier was shot in the leg during an operation in Oruzgan province in southern Afghanistan and is in a stable condition. The Australian Defence Force said the soldier, who has not been
named, was treated at the scene before being evacuated to the military hospital. There have been 35 Australian soldiers wounded this year. Earlier, Mr Abbott said he was open to
the idea of boosting Australia's commitment in Afghanistan, which currently comprises around 1500 personnel. The Liberal leader said he believed it was possible for Afghanistan
to become "relatively stable and peaceful".
'Abbott made $250b climate cost blunder'
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has been accused of a major costings blunder by claiming
Australians could be slugged $400 billion under a plan leaked at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen. "Just to get a five per cent reduction in emissions Mr Rudd wants to whack a
$120 billion tax on us," Mr Abbott told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday. To get a 15 per cent or 25 per cent reduction in emissions, on Mr Rudd's logic, it's going to be an even
bigger tax - perhaps a $300 or $400 billion dollar tax," Mr Abbot said. But the claims are in stark contrast to treasury modelling released last year suggesting the total cost of permits
to achieve a 15 per cent target by 2020 would be around $150 billion. Assistant Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said that the opposition leader could not be trusted on
climate change. He also said the government would honour its commitment to households under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), regardless of what emissions
reduction target was adopted. The CPRS is set to be re-introduced into the Senate in February after being voted down earlier this month.
Roche dismisses Tamiflu criticism
The team, led by a Gold Coast academic, has queried the use of Tamiflu and criticised the secrecy of Roche which is making billions of dollars a year from the weapon of choice
against influenza. The Roche pharmaceutical company has dismissed the findings of a team of medical researchers against Tamiflu. But the numbers shows that the Roche has
estimated sales of $A2.88 billion this year alone from Tamiflu. The joint investigation by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the BBC's Channel Four found there is no clear evidence
that Tamiflu prevents complications like pneumonia in healthy people. But the pharmaceutical giant said it stood by its data supporting the efficacy and safety of Tamiflu,
the conduct of its clinical trials and its publication policies. Claims about the effectiveness of Tamiflu against complications have been a key factor in decisions by governments around
the world to stockpile the drug as part of plans to combat a possible swine flu pandemic.
$60,000 grants to encourage healthy eating
The Federal Government has announced the second round of primary schools to receive
funding as part of a healthy eating program. Funding of up to $60,000 each will be granted to 47 schools across Australia, to build kitchens and organic vegetable gardens. Health
Minister Nicola Roxon says it is an effective way to teach children healthy eating habits.
Philippines gunmen 'release' students and teachers
Armed bandits have released dozens of students and teachers they held hostage for several
hours in the southern Philippines, military officials say. At least 65 people were seized at a village primary school near Prosperidad on the east coast of Mindanao island. Military
spokesman Lt Col Romeo Brawner later said all the hostages had been freed, following a stand-off. Police chief Marco Archinue said the men had earlier demanded the dropping of
charges against them, including murder and robbery. There is no sign it was linked to the killing of 57 people on Mindanao last month.
Brown, Sarkozy to meet after diplomatic spat
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have issued a joint call for urgent global reform of financial markets. The joint letter comes ahead of talks
on the sidelines of an EU conference, where they will try to brush off a row over an EU appointment. Mr Sarkozy appeared to boast that a Frenchman's appointment to oversee
European banking was a British defeat. The EU summit will also address climate change and financing. Mr Brown and Mr Sarkozy had cancelled a meeting scheduled to be held last
week, amid speculation of a row over EU posts. Mr Sarkozy has said the British were "the big losers" in the share-out of EU jobs after former French agriculture minister Michel
Barnier was given the role of supervising Europe's internal market for financial services, most of which is in the City of London. In a show of unity ahead of the talk, the leaders
issued a joint call for the urgent global reform of financial markets. They say there is an "urgent need for a new compact between global banks and the society they serve". Various
proposals to reform the sector "deserve examination", they said, but a one-off tax on high bonuses paid to bankers "should be considered a priority". The meeting comes as the UK
finance minister Alistair Darling announced a one-off supertax on banker bonuses in a pre-Budget report on yesterday. The new tax, which would be paid by banks and not
individuals, is designed to discourage institutions from paying large bonuses to employees in the wake of the major taxpayer support they have received in the financial crisis.
Bernard Kouchner accused over Guinea Camara shooting
France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was involved in a plot to kill the leader of Guinea's ruling junta, the country's military rulers say. Junta spokesman Idrissa Cherif said
that Mr Kouchner had "activated some networks" in order to "change the situation" in the West African country. France's government said the claims were "completely groundless".
Junta leader Capt Moussa Dadis Camara is said to be recovering after being shot in the head last week. Mr Cherif said he did not believe the shooting was official French
government policy. French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Christine Farges rejected the allegations. The authorities say more than 100 soldiers have been arrested since the
shooting. Reports from the capital, Conakry, say soldiers have also been sweeping through the city rounding up civilians. Guinea has been in turmoil since the military took over last
December just hours after the death of long-time ruler Lansana Conte. The crackdown has been condemned by France, as well as the EU, US and the African Union.
FBI investigates 'US arrests' in Pakistan
The FBI is investigating the arrest in Pakistan of five suspected US nationals for possible extremist links. The men were held in a raid on a house in Sarghoda in eastern Punjab
province, Pakistan's US embassy says. The FBI said it was trying to determine whether they were the same men reported missing from their homes in the US state of Virginia late
last month. Relatives reportedly found a farewell video message, showing scenes of war and saying Muslims must be defended. The US state department is also seeking
information on the men. Pakistani police said that the passports of the five were all American, but they are being checked to make sure they are not forged. Three of the men
are reported to be of Pakistani descent, one of Egyptian heritage and the other of Yemeni background. FBI spokeswoman Katherine Schweit said the agency was aware of the arrests
and was in contact with the families of the missing students. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined to comment on the arrests.
Honduras anti-drugs chief killed
Gunmen in Honduras have shot dead the head of the country's anti-drug trafficking
operations. Police said retired Gen Julian Aristides Gonzalez was travelling in a car in the capital, Tegucigalpa, when attackers on a motorcycle opened fire. He was reportedly
travelling alone, without bodyguards. On Monday, Gen Aristides had presented a report about drug trafficking through Honduras and voiced concern about the number of landing
strips in Honduras that traffickers were using. He said land owners who allowed their property to be used could face charges of involvement in drug smuggling. Honduras is a
major route for drugs smuggled from South to North America. The nation, mired in political crisis since President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in June, also has one of the highest murder
Top China dissident faces charges
Chinese police have recommended that prosecutors formally charge top dissident Liu
Xiaobo with inciting subversion, his lawyer has said. Mr Liu has been detained for a year without charge. He was detained on 8 December 2008 after co-authoring Charter 08, a
petition first circulated online last year that calls for human rights protection and the reform of China's one-party communist system. The likely charge of "inciting subversion to
state power" is routinely used against anyone criticising the Chinese Communist Party. Mr Liu is a writer and former university professor who has spent much of his time since being
a leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests either in prison or under various forms of house arrest or close monitoring. He has continued to write and publish
his writings on the internet, calling for democratic pluralism in China.
India to form new southern state
India's government has said it plans to allow a new state to be created from part of
southern Andhra Pradesh state. Campaigners for a Telangana state say the region has long been neglected. One of their leaders has ended a hunger strike. His supporters are
celebrating. But 70 state assembly members are resigning in protest, which observers say could lead to a political crisis. The legislators, mostly from to the state's governing
Congress party, said they were not consulted by the federal government before it decided to form the new state. The last three new states in India were formed in 2000:
Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand. India has 28 states.
Barack Obama set for Oslo Nobel Peace Prize ceremony
US President Barack Obama will collect his Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Norway's
capital, Oslo, shortly. The accolade was awarded to Mr Obama in October for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between
peoples". At a news conference with Norway's PM, Mr Obama said he had no doubt there were other candidates more deserving. The ceremony comes days after Mr Obama
announced he was sending 30,000 extra US soldiers to the war in Afghanistan. The US president signed the Nobel Prize book of previous laureates after arriving in Oslo with his
wife, Michelle, today. But there has been some criticism because he will not have lunch with the king and queen, and is staying in Norway only one day, even though Nobel ceremonies
are usually held over three. Security is high in Oslo for the event and anti-war protesters have gathered outside city hall, where the ceremony will take place. The Nobel Prizes for
chemistry, literature, medicine, physics and economics will also be presented, with each laureate receiving a diploma, a medal and 10m Krona (US$1.4m), which is shared by joint
winners. Coinciding with the Nobel ceremony, a statue of Mr Obama as a young boy was unveiled in a park in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. Central Jakarta Mayor Sylviana Murni
said the statue was intended to inspire Indonesian children.
Australian Capital Territory
Tripartisan support for advertising restrictions
The ACT Legislative Assembly looks set to pass laws restricting government advertising. All three parties have indicated they will vote for a Liberals bill to appoint an independent
reviewer with industry expertise to scrutinise advertisements to make sure they are
apolitical. But there is disagreement about when the laws should come into effect. Chief Minister Jon Stanhope says the legislation has merit but he thinks it is a political stunt. He
says the Liberals are only pushing the issue because they are in opposition.
New South Wales
$1bn budget deficit - back to black in 2010
New Treasury figures show the New South Wales budget deficit has blown out this year to
more than a billion dollars - but it will return to surplus a year earlier than forecast. The Premier Kristina Keneally and the treasurer Eric Roozendaal have released the half-yearly
budget review. It shows that this financial year, the deficit will be just over a billion dollars which is worse than the original forecast of a $990 million deficit, made when the budget
was released in June. The half-yearly review also shows the budget is now forecast to return to surplus 12 months earlier than forecast. The surplus of $872 million is expected
next year. The Premier Kristina Keneally says it is good news. But the Shadow Treasurer Mike Baird says he does not trust the foreacsts from Treasury. The government also
announced yesterday that its four year infrastructure program will increase by $2.6 billion to $65.5 five billion.
Inquiry finds corruption in security industry
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is calling on the Police Commissioner to take control of the security industry after making damning findings after
an inquiry into the sector. During a nine-day hearing earlier this year, the ICAC looked into three companies that train security guards. The majority of evidence related to licensing
rorts at the Roger Training Academy in Auburn. An undercover investigator paid a manager $800 for fake certificates in first aid, the responsible service of alcohol and the responsible
conduct of gaming. The Academy's Principal Ahmed Moosani is one of ten men named in today's findings as corrupt. The report says he made a substantial profit from his
misconduct. It has asked the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to consider laying charges against eight of the ten men. It has also called on the Police Commissioner Andrew
Scipione to assume ultimate responsibility for the security industry, in order to prevent corruption and fraud.
$400m upgrade for Box Hill Hospital
The Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne's east is receiving a $400 million upgrade. The refurbishment will more than double the hospital's floor space, and allow the facility to care
for an additional 7,000 people each year. The upgrade will include a new intensive care unit and an upgrade to the emergency department, and will provide 100 additional beds. There
will also be a dedicated precinct for children's and women's health services, and an upgrade to the hospital's critical care services. The Premier, John Brumby, says it will be the largest
redevelopment of a suburban hospital in Victoria's history. The State Government had previously foreshadowed an $800 million redevelopment of the hospital, to completely
rebuild the hospital. But the Government was unable to secure funding from the Commonwealth. The Opposition's health spokesman, David Davis, says the $400 million
refurbishment falls well short of what is needed. Work to redevelop the hospital will start in the first half of next year.
Garrett considers Torres Strait climate aid
The Australian Government will consider a request to provide about $22 million in climate change mitigation aid to the Torres Strait Islands. Residents of the islands had said their
appeals for funds were being ignored by authorities - even while the Federal Government was promising $150 million in climate change aid to Pacific Island nations. Now, following
an ABC report broadcast on the Australia Network, Environment Minister Peter Garrett says the Government will consider the Torres Strait Regional Authority's aid request. Residents
of six inhabited islands in Torres Strait have been shocked by recent king tides which
damaged homes and threatened fresh water supplies. More king tides are expected in January.
Firepower lost tens of millions
Firepower founder Tim Johnston faced his third day of questioning in court about the company's finances prior to its collapse last year, losing $100 million of investors' money.
Mr Johnson conceded that every time the company, Firepower Operations, sold a product, it lost money. The court heard Firepower's profit and loss statement for the years 2005 to
2008, showed a loss of $41.7 million; $23 million in 2007 alone. Lawyers for the company's liquidator said among the company's expenses in that period was $6.7 million on
sponsorship, $2 million on legal fees, $5.6 million on travel expenses and $1.5 million on hotel accommodation. The balance sheet showed just $452,000 on research and
development. Liquidator Bryan Hughes says the money came from other companies in the Firepower group. Mr Johnston told the court there was a rescue operation for the company
nearing completion in London. Mr Hughes says he has concerns about it and he may need to alert English authorities.
Regions 'missing out' on green loans scheme
Regional South Australians keen to install rainwater tanks using federal 'green' loans say they are unable to because of a lack of qualified assessors. The Government says its
program is helping households install solar, water-saving or energy-efficient products. But a Port Augusta local Tiffany Lord says she has been unable to install a water tank under the
scheme after being told there are no assessors in the region. But James Wills is a qualified greens loans assessor and says it is possible to have properties assessed in areas such as
Teachers' union campaigns against website
A teaching union says it will campaign across Australia during the school holidays against
the Federal Government's My School website. It is now online and gives a sample of information that will be available from next year on almost 10,000 schools across Australia.
Correna Haythorpe, of the Australian Education Union, says parents are already able to get performance information from their children's schools. She says putting it on a single
website will turn public education into a spectator sport.
Sacred sites back in Aboriginal hands
Title for two sacred sites near Alice Springs has been handed back to Aboriginal traditional
owners. The Emily and Jessie Gap Nature Parks are the eleventh and twelfth reserves to be handed back to traditional owners in Central Australia. The parks will then be leased back
to the Northern Territory Government for 99 years for continued use as a reserve. The parks will become Aboriginal freehold land, which means alcohol bans under the federal
intervention will apply. The Government will not be seeking an exemption to the bans. Traditional owner Aaron Alice says his family began campaigning to get the land back two
Antarctica ice core headed to Reno
A piece of Antarctica is being sent from Hobart to a desert laboratory in the United States
to help determine the extent of recent climate change. The ice core sample was taken from a site about 100 kilometres from Casey Station last summer. Tasmanian scientists say it
would take them two years to analyse the ice, but the experts at Nevada's Desert Research Institute in Reno can do the same work in six months. Dr Barbara Frankel from the
Australian Antarctic Division says the science is vital. Her colleague, Dr Tas Van Ommen,
says the data can help predict changes in climate patterns. The ice is being packed in dry ice for its 48-hour journey by car and plane.
AFL: Gary Ablett smooths Gold Coast waters with his Geelong team-mates
Two days after meeting Gold Coast officials, Gary Ablett trained with Geelong, reassuring team-mates he was unlikely to leave. Ablett is contracted for another season with the Cats,
but the AFL's 17th club has persistently sought a meeting with the Brownlow medallist in recent months. Ablett took the chance to listen to their pitch on the weekend while visiting
his brother, Nathan, and their father, Gary Sr, who has been living on the Gold Coast for the past month. Ablett and his manager, Liam Pickering, heard officials outline an offer worth
more than $1.5 million a season. Geelong football manager Neil Balme stressed the Cats' position on Ablett had not changed. Ablett will head to New York next week for two weeks
with girlfriend Lauren Phillips and members of their families, and is unlikely to contemplate his football future until next year. But his Gold Coast meeting divided opinion in the football
community, with Essendon coach Matthew Knights saying he would be "grossly disappointed" if one of his players had done the same. Pickering, who also manages Nathan
Ablett - set to play for the Gold Coast in the VFL next season - refused to be drawn on Ablett's future. Geelong chief executive Brian Cook is overseas and is expected to prepare
Geelong's counter offer in the coming weeks, although Cats are likely to be in a position to offer only about half what the Gold Coast can pay.
NRL: Cooper Cronk to miss opening month of Storm premiership defence
Melbourne Storm are facing a tough start to their NRL premiership defence with four players undergoing off-season surgery and the late arrival of eight representative stars
seriously disrupting preparations for the 2010 campaign. Halfback Cooper Cronk, unlucky not to be named Churchill Medallist in October's grand final victory over Parramatta, is
expected to miss the first four games after undergoing groin surgery. Forwards Brett White, Ryan Tandy and former Bulldog John Kite are also expected to be sidelined early in the
season following shoulder operations. The injury setbacks come on top of a heavy player turnover, including the loss of premiership players Dallas Johnson (Les Catalans), Steve
Turner (Canterbury) and Will Chambers (Queensland Reds). And the Storm also have to cope with eight players not starting their pre-seasons until mid-January, having come off
international commitments - six with Australia and two with New Zealand - which coach Craig Bellamy said made it harder to integrate new players into their combinations. The
club would have preferred the surgery to have been done immediately after the grand final victory, but had to delay it so he could be part of Australia's successful Four Nations tour to
Cricket: Queensland 258 - New South Wales 6/259
Baby-faced allrounder Steven Smith showed his new-found maturity by sparking NSW's
gutsy four-wicket one-day win over Queensland at the Gabba. The 20-year-old who cashed in on NSW's lucrative Champions League Twenty20 victory, again emerged as the Blues'
money man with a match-turning 75 not out. After NSW were reeling at 4-78, Smith shared in a 91-run fifth wicket stand with Ben Rohrer (57) before some late fireworks with
David Warner (34) ensured the Blues reached the target with 13 balls to spare. Daniel Smith was not out 16 as NSW in the end cruised to 6-259. It kept alive NSW's slim one-day
final hopes, ending a slide of three straight losses. In contrast, ladder leaders Queensland suffered only their second one day loss this summer following five consecutive victories.
Bulls seamer Chris Swan (2-36 off eight overs) made an impressive comeback from a groin complaint, taking out danger men Phil Jaques (8) and Phil Hughes (6). For NSW, Clark (2-
47 off 10 overs), Josh Hazlewood (2-38 off 8.2 overs) and Henriques (2-61 off 10) were among the wickets.
A-League: Reddy joins Roar's player exodus
Another player is set to leave the Brisbane Roar after the A-League club finally agreed to release out-of-favour goalkeeper Liam Reddy. The move follows Scottish playmaker Charlie
Miller sensational walk out last week, and the Roar announced Reddy would follow at the
end of the season due to "personal reasons". Reddy - who had lost his starting place to Griffin McMaster - had another year left on his three-year contract. It ends a stand-off that
began when Reddy asked to be released from the final year of his contract so he could link up with Sydney FC. However, negotiations stalled after Reddy reportedly demanded to be
paid out until March with Brisbane only willing to pay the 28-year-old for as long as their 2009-10 season lasted. And this could be by February if they miss the finals. But the Roar
yesterday announced that they had agreed on "compassionate grounds" to release Reddy at the end of the season. Roar coach Ange Postecoglou stressed that Reddy would still work
with the first team squad until then.
Basketball: Blaze 80 - 36ers 72
Gold Coast Blaze have maintained their winning form in the National Basketball League,
recovering a six-point half-time deficit to defeat Adelaide 36ers 80-72. The Sixers led 40-34 at the long break, but the hosts, riding a four-match winning streak, powered home in the
second half to improve their impressive home record in the 2009-2010 season. The Blaze are now undefeated in seven games at the Gold Coast Convention Centre since they were
beaten by Townsville Crocodiles on the opening day of the season. Anthony Pebrie paced the home side with 19 points and eight rebounds. John Gilchrist starred for the visitors,
Tennis: Rodionova officially an Aussie
Russian-born Anastasia Rodionova will finally represent Australia at every tennis
tournament she plays after she is granted citizenship today. Rodionova will be sworn in during a conferral ceremony in Melbourne. "I am so excited and proud to be an Aussie," the
27-year-old said. "I have always loved Australia since I first competed here in 2002, and gaining citizenship of this great country makes me feel like my adopted home is now finally
my true home." Rodionova has lived in Melbourne since 2005. She is currently ranked world number 96, will become Australia's number three-ranked women's player after a solid
2009 season. Her best result for the year was reaching the third round of the US Open after coming back from major hip surgery in September 2008.
Hot, dry northerlies in southern QLD and NSW are giving way to showers and storms and a cooler change, triggered by a trough. This trough is also causing storms in the NT and
northern WA. Dry southeasterlies in western WA as a front brings cool, showery winds to SA, VIC and TAS.
National Forecast: A trough in the east will trigger showers and storms across northern WA,
the NT, QLD and northeastern NSW. A high will clear the rest of NSW, most of VIC and SA as strong westerly winds maintain showers in TAS. In WA winds will turn dry and hotter
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