Monthly Archives: February 2019

World Cup football qualifier exposes China-Hong Kong tensions

Protesters blocked Hong Kong’s main streets for months last year during the “Occupy Central” protests, calling for real democracy for the former British colony in the vote for its next leader in 2017.

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Beijing has allowed a direct vote, but only from among pre-screened, pro-Beijing candidates.

Hundreds of Chinese paramilitary and riot police were deployed in and around the 40,000-seat stadium in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, bordering the Chinese “Special Administrative Region” of Hong Kong.

The match, a spirited contest dominated by China, ended in a 0-0 draw, sparking wild celebrations from 2,000 or so Hong Kong fans, hemmed in by tens of thousands of red-clad mainland China supporters banging drums and waving flags.

“We’ve faced so much pressure from China over the past year. This is the only way we can release some of our anger, on the sports field,” said Roy Choi, a fan with a group called “Power for Hong Kong” at the game. “I’m so proud of Hong Kong.”

Passions had already spilled over earlier in the year when Hong Kong fans jeered as China’s national anthem was played for a previous qualifier, drawing the ire of some mainland bloggers who called for the “beating of Hong Kong dogs” in Shenzhen.

A controversial poster issued by China’s National Football Association to promote the qualifier had also raised the heat.

“This team has people with black skin, yellow skin and white skin. For such a diverse team, be on guard!” the poster read. The Hong Kong team has a number of foreign-born players.

Most mainland Chinese fans streamed out of the stadium peacefully, watched by scores of riot police clutching shields and batons.

“I’m disappointed,” said Cai Ronghua, with a red China flag drawn on his forehead. “Politics shouldn’t intrude into sports … but I do admit that ties between Hong Kong and China aren’t great right now.”

While most football encounters have been peaceful, a 1985 World Cup qualifier in Beijing that was won by Hong Kong sparked riots by Chinese fans.

Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 under a promise that core individual and commercial freedoms, backed by a British-style legal system, would be protected for 50 years.

(Story refiles to add dropped ‘Hong Kong’ in paragraph 3)

(Additional reporting by Ever Tang; Editing by Nick Macfie/Ruth Pitchford)

Biting charge won’t affect Eagle Masten

West Coast coach Adam Simpson insists Chris Masten is in a good head space as the midfielder prepares to make his AFL return from a biting charge.

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Masten copped a two-week ban after being found guilty of biting Fremantle’s Nick Suban during last month’s spiteful western derby.

Suban required a course of antibiotics after being bitten.

Masten has been a key cog in West Coast’s rise into flag contention this year, and Simpson says the 26-year-old hasn’t been scarred by the fallout from the biting incident.

“Mentally, he’s in a good space,” Simpson said ahead of Saturday night’s clash with St Kilda in Perth.

“We’ve welcomed him back with open arms. He’s a really important player in our side and adds to our balance in how we play.”

The Eagles will lock up second spot with victory over St Kilda and likely set up a blockbuster qualifying final encounter against Hawthorn in Perth.

And while Fremantle, North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs are resting players this weekend to prepare for their flag assault, West Coast have done the opposite.

The Eagles recalled Sam Butler, Sharrod Wellingham, Masten and Jackson Nelson, while star defender Jeremy McGovern was also named despite hurting his shoulder in last week’s loss to Adelaide.

McGovern has barely played in the past six weeks, and the Eagles are desperate to get more game time into him ahead of the finals.

“We wouldn’t risk him if he got to a point where he couldn’t get through a game,” Simpson said of McGovern, who had twice been sidelined by a hamstring issue this year.

“He needs to get some minutes up. We need to get some continuity back into our back half as well.

“We have had a lot of players miss one or two weeks in the last 10 weeks. We’re trying to get everyone back together, rather than rest players.”

Simpson is confident key defender Will Schofield will return from a hamstring injury next week.

And midfielder Scott Selwood can put his name up for a finals recall with a strong display for East Perth this weekend.

Meanwhile, Simpson says he hasn’t given any thought to the prospect of recruiting Geelong ace Steve Johnson next year.

Johnson will consider linking up with a new club after announcing on Friday he will not play on for Geelong in 2016.

The 32-year-old will weigh up his options over coming weeks, but Simpson doesn’t want to comment on the situation while the Eagles are focused on the finals.

How to make smartphone videos look pro

Think you’re the next Martin Scorsese, but don’t have the Hollywood funds to get a hold of some heavy-duty camera equipment?

You’re in luck.

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Pick up your smartphone and call… oh no, wait.

Just pick up your smartphone. And press record.

Anyone who owns a smartphone is basically carrying around a relatively inexpensive, light and easy-to-use film camera.

Don’t believe it?

Award-winning feature film Tangerine, which appeared at Sundance Film Festival and was in competition at Sydney Film Festival this year, was shot almost entirely on an iPhone 5S. Not that you would ever know watching it.

The brash breakout hit about a transgender prostitute in Los Angeles searching for the pimp who broke her heart was directed by Sean Baker and shot on three iPhones – a fact he managed to keep secret until its world premiere.

Baker also used an app called FiLMiC Pro that costs just $9.99, a Steadicam Smoothee ($69.00) to get that fluid feel and make sure there was none of those shaky hand-held issues, and an anamorphic adaptor that enabled the film to be shot in widescreen.

But what he really splurged on – and his one piece of advice for budding filmmakers – was to get professional sound.

“It’s what really separates the amateurs from the professionals,” Baker told AAP.

“If you had seen us shooting in Santa Monica, the only real giveaway that we were a professional shoot was our boom pole and sound gear. We didn’t scrimp on that at all.”

Baker says it’s all about exploring and experimenting with the various products and apps available.

“You could simply lift up an iPhone and use just the video function on the phone and get something that you could cut into a found footage film, something like a Blair Witch Project and you would be fine,” he said.

“But if you want to emulate film or shoot in a more conventional manner, you have to employ different tools.”

Tomic vowing to continue his US Open run

Bernard Tomic believes he can continue his career-best run after crashing through the physical and psychological pain barrier to end Lleyton Hewitt’s glittering US Open career.

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Tomic saved two match points in an epic all-Australian second-round encounter to reach the third round for the first time at Flushing Meadows with a sapping 6-3 6-2 3-6 5-7 7-5 win on Thursday.

The 24th seed had to pull out all the stops to deny his Davis Cup teammate and mentor an extraordinary 33rd five-set triumph on another punishing day at the Open.

Hewitt, who will retire after the Australian Open in January, overcame a hip injury to rally back from two sets and a service break down to serve for the match at 5-4 in the fifth.

But Tomic, 12 years his junior and 331 places above the former world No.1 in the rankings, dug deep to reel off four games straight to take the match after three hours and 27 minutes.

“It was not going to be easy because I kept thinking about watching his matches in the past, how he got out of them,” Tomic said.

“Then I was in the moment, in the position where I was winning and he was starting to get back.

“It is so difficult playing him. I was very, very nervous (and) it could have gone both ways.

“He is a huge legend to me. I always looked up to him. It was very emotional.”

And painful, with Tomic calling the trainer to rub his aching legs at 6-5 in the deciding set and then consoling – and congratulating – his hero at the net.

“I said: `Why did you have to come back? I just said, Why did you have to? It’s too good,” Tomic said.

“In my mind, I thought he won the match. It was very emotional for us. He wished me the best of luck. I’m very good friends with him. For me, it’s not easy to see that.”

Hewitt said he hoped his grit and the manner of Tomic’s fighting win would help the Australian No.1 – who is currently projected to climb to a career-high No.22 after the Open – grow as a player.

“He obviously was well on top and I was able to somehow find a way. That’s what I’ve been renowned for in my career,” Hewitt said.

“If I can instil a little bit of that especially into the three promising young guys on the way up, with their games and the weapons they have, then that’s just another positive for them.”

Next up on Saturday is Richard Gasquet, a four-set winner over Dutchman Robin Haase, and Tomic believes he has the arsenal and energy to take out the French 12th seed and make the second week.

“I spoke to him in the locker room. He was, as well, very tired. He was feeling some problems out there. Everyone is feeling problems,” Tomic said.

“I think my record is 4-1. I beat him in a very important one, which is Wimbledon, third round, 2013.

“Every match we had in the past was very close. I’ve learned a lot when I played him. He’s an amazing player. He’s not easy to play.

“I have to take each match that I played against him and use it for this third-round match.”

Euro 2016 job not done yet, Iceland put off celebration

“It would be very nice to have a beer now,” said co-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson after Thursday’s 1-0 win in Amsterdam put the small north Atlantic island just one win away from reaching the 2016 Euro finals, “but we need to keep our players’ feet firmly on the ground.

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They can seal their place in the finals on Sunday when they host Kazakhstan in Reykjavik where home success will ensure them a top two finish in Group A.

Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 51st minute penalty ensured a famous victory for Iceland, whose 3000 travelling fans roared them on in the Amsterdam Arena, to compete a double over the Dutch, who lost 2-0 in Iceland last October.

“We can be really proud of winning two games against one of the best attacking teams in Europe. This win is the biggest achievement in the history of Iceland’s football,” added Hallgrimsson.

“We were lucky the Dutch had a player sent off but we played the game according to how we would have liked to ball it. We are just flying at the moment,” he said of the celebratory mood in the camp.

Hallgrimsson, however, insisted restraint was paramount.

“It will be a difficult game against Kazakhstan. There we will have more ball possession and be forced to attack. But we believe players can do that especially knowing the fact that we need just one more win.”

Hallgrimsson, who shares coaching duties with the experienced Swede Lars Lagerback, said the key was to continue with routine and leave the partying until after Sunday.

“We are not changing anything, just sticking to our same routine. The players seem to enjoy themselves in the routine and seem to flourish, so we are not going to change. But it would be very nice to have a beer.”

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Block contestant is a repeat drink driver

The Block contestant Suzi Taylor has a chequered driving history that includes two drink driving offences and a current disqualification for unlicensed driving.

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The 1991 Penthouse Pet Of The Year is one half of the ‘single mums’ team on the Nine Network series.

Taylor had to be chauffeured around by labourers during the filming of the latest season of The Block, which starts on Sunday night, because her licence had been suspended for two years.

Taylor, the mother of three children, appeared in the Southport Magistrates Court on the Gold Coast for each offence.

The first offence was in March 2012 with Taylor banned from driving for eight months and fined $1000 after driving with a blood alcohol level that exceeded the .05 limit.

She was back in court in December 2012 for failing to comply with the conditions of the restricted licence granted at her previous appearance.

Taylor copped a $300 fine and an additional month’s suspension on her licence as well as the revoking of her restricted licence.

In April 2014, Taylor was caught again drink driving, fined $300 and disqualified from driving for one month.

She fronted court again in July 2014 after being charged with unlicensed driving in June with the court fining her $350 and imposing another one month licence ban.

The 44-year-old was then in September last year given a six month driving ban and $200 fine after accumulating more than 12 demerit points.

In February, Taylor was again disqualified from driving after she was caught for unlicensed driving. She was fined $400 and her licence suspended for two years.

Taylor is paired with work acquaintance Yvonne Cosier, 39, on the renovation reality series.

Cosier or a labourer had to drive the cars that are supplied by The Block to ferry Taylor to shop for furnishings and building supplies.

It is believed Nine does a federal police check on each of the contestants.

However, it’s unlikely the Magistrates Court appearances would have been detected.

Nine was asked if they knew about Taylor’s repeat drink driving offence before she was chosen as a contestant.

A network spokesman said they would not comment about Taylor’s driving record.

Hayne impresses in pre-season finale

Jarryd Hayne has likely played himself into the San Francisco 49ers’ 53-man squad by showing his versatility with power-running, safe hands and punt returning skills against the San Diego Chargers.

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“That was my most complete game,” a pleased Hayne told reporters in the locker room after the game.

The 49ers beat the Chargers 14-12 in their fourth and final pre-season game before the September 14 regular-season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

The 49ers have until Saturday (Sunday AEST) to cut their 75-man pre-season squad to 53.

While Hayne is expected to make the team, two other 49ers competing for his punt and kick returning positions, wide receivers Bruce Ellington and DeAndrew White, also had impressive games.

Ellington was the first 49ers’ returner on the field and, as a wide receiver, scored a 70-yard touchdown.

49ers head coach Jim Tomsula has said he wants his punt returners to contribute at other positions.

After the game Tomsula refused to give too much away, but detailed how the Australian was able to play multiple positions strongly.

“Everything will be clear-cut after the weekend,” Tomsula said.

In the third and fourth quarters the 49ers went to Hayne at running back and he showed the elusive, power-running that made him one of the NRL’s best players.

In one sequence Hayne caught a pass for five yards, had a blockbusting run up the middle for 15 yards on the next play, caught another pass for 12 yards and at the end of the completion dropped his shoulder to abruptly stop corner back Lowell Rose in his tracks.

The crowd cheered and US TV commentators laughed before declaring: “Hayne just shredded him”.

Tomsula, a burly, tough former defensive lineman coach, smiled when he was asked about the play.

“I’m not going to disrespect the other player (Rose), but I’ll tell you Jarryd is a tough guy,” Tomsula said.

Adding to his versatility, Hayne showed his tackling skills on the 49ers’ punt coverage team. On one kick he ran downfield, eluded the Chargers’ blockers and chopped down punt returner Javontee Herndon with an around-the-ankles NRL-style tackle.

Hayne’s mother Jodie and sisters Jessi-Lee and Taygan, who flew in from Sydney, were in the 49ers’ 68,500-seat Levi’s Stadium to watch the former Parramatta Eels ace.

Hayne has become a fan favourite in the San Francisco Bay Area, with 49ers fans raving about their Australian rookie.

In the team store at the northern end of the stadium the only jersey you could buy was Hayne’s No.38, with store clerks telling AAP they just received a shipment in.

Fans looking for the jersey of the team’s star, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, had to look in other stores in the arena, they said.

Geelong Grammar staffer’s child abused

A former senior Geelong Grammar staff member believes his son committed suicide after being abused by a pedophile at the prestigious school.

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Paul Claridge said the school’s rigid hierarchy dictated its response to sexual abuse, and he feared he may be fired if he challenged its “wrong” decision to expel a student who complained he had been abused.

The former Highton campus deputy master revealed one of his sons may have been a victim of serial offender Philippe Trutmann, who has been convicted of abusing 41 Geelong Grammar students.

“The fact that one person, Philippe Trutmann, could cause so much harm to so many students is reprehensible,” Mr Claridge told the child abuse royal commission on Friday.

“I have a particular insight into the trauma as I now believe that one of my sons may have been a victim whilst a student at Highton and that his subsequent death may have been connected to the abuse.”

Jamie Claridge, a day student at the Highton campus, came home in 1986 and said he hated Mr Trutmann, the commission heard. He committed suicide in 1997 as a 23-year-old, a month after again bringing up the subject of Mr Trutmann.

Mr Claridge criticised the school for putting its reputation before individual students’ wellbeing.

He said issues disappeared into the recesses of upper management and other staff members had little or no say.

Mr Claridge said the school was wrong to expel student BIW, a 14-year-old boarder who complained he woke up one night in 1989 to a man touching him.

“It seems to be that the wrong person was punished and the matter was not properly investigated,” he said.

But Mr Claridge said he felt constrained by Geelong Grammar’s rigid structure.

“You must understand the extremely rigid nature of the school’s operation and the cost that might be borne by a person who, as it were, blew the whistle.”

Mr Trutmann was jailed for six and a half years in 2005 for molesting 40 students between 1985 and 1995 when he was a live-in boarding house assistant at Highton.

He was later given a wholly suspended 12 month sentence after admitting indecently assaulting BIW.

Mr Claridge recalled seeing Mr Trutmann caressing the neck and back of a child sitting on his knee about 1990, which set off warning bells as he believed it was inappropriate.

Mr Claridge, who left the school in 1993, said he believed at the time he did as much as he could to raise concerns about Mr Trutmann.

“The arrangement of the school dictated to large extent the responses of staff in situations like this,” he said.

He said he now believed he should have done more.

Mr Claridge said he would welcome police questioning of Mr Trutmann about his son Jamie.

“I think that would be very beneficial and provide the family with some closure.”

* For support and information about suicide prevention, call Lifeline on 13 11 14

Melb train strike could cost economy $10m

Melbourne’s train drivers went on strike and so did other city residents, staying away from the central business district in droves and punching a million-dollar hole in the city’s economy.

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Friday’s four-hour strike did not cause the predicted peak-hour bedlam after many Melburnians chose to work from home or take the day off.

City officials were left to count the cost, with Lord Mayor Robert Doyle predicting the disruption could cost the economy as much as $10 million.

Melbourne’s public transport pain is not over yet with early morning train cancellations set for Saturday and another tram strike planned for Thursday.

Friday’s strike officially started at 10am, although some trains shut down as early as 8.30am.

Striking staff did their best to disrupt what little traffic was left in the city centre as they marched to Flinders Street station from Melbourne’s Trades Hall with members of the police, nurses and other unions.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union secretary Luba Grigorovitch said workers have waited more than five months for a fair deal.

“Metro should be under no illusion they can dress up previous offers and the workers will be conned,” she told the 100-strong crowd on Friday.

“We will not allow this company to boost their profits at the expense of the workers.”

CFMEU boss John Setka hinted at more strikes to come.

“It’s the (AFL) finals time soon – what a wonderful time to have some industrial action,” Mr Setka said.

Many commuters questioned why workers were striking when they had been offered a 17 per cent pay rise over four years.

Waiting for protesters to march across Swanston Street, Lin said it was disappointing that it had come to this.

“They should be happy they have jobs,” she told AAP.

But Metro staff say the industrial action is not about the money – it is about keeping their conditions.

“We’re striking because Metro made promises they couldn’t keep,” Sue, not her real name, told AAP.

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said both parties have to negotiate.

“Some people are going to be in a situation where they have had to lose a day’s pay – and those people have the right to be angry and fed up that the action was taken,” she told reporters.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the action was going to cost the city millions of dollars – all because the government “is acting like a pack of passengers”.

Metro chief executive officer Andrew Lezala is hopeful the company can reach an agreement with the union soon and avoid further strikes.

“I’m very pleased that productive talks have resumed,” Mr Lezala told reporters.

MH370 definitely lost at sea: Truss

Confirmation that a wing part found on an Indian Ocean island is from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 proves beyond doubt that the aircraft was lost at sea, Transport Minister Warren Truss says.

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Mr Truss said he remained confident that the ongoing search was looking in the correct area.

“This is a significant announcement and it confirms beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost at sea,” he told reporters on Friday.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 last year with 239 people, including six Australians, on board.

It was believed the aircraft headed south. But there was no solid evidence until the discovery of a wing part called a flaperon washed up on the French island of Reunion in July.

On Friday, French prosecutors confirmed that it was definitely from Flight MH370.

Mr Truss said this was obviously a difficult moment for families of those who were on board but it did provide them with some closure.

He said the seabed search could still take the better part of another year.

“We are confident we’re looking in the right area but of course we are frustrated that the search has been going on for such a long time… without so far achieving the kind of result that we had hoped,” he said.

Mr Truss said well over half the high probability area had now been searched, with the search ship now looking further south.

“Once that’s completed, the experts tell us that we’ve exhausted 95 per cent of the possibility. To search for the other five per cent would mean going on for years and years and that would therefore not be a cost-effective exercise,” he said.

Mr Truss said once the highest probability area had been searched, countries involved had agreed it would be discontinued.

“But as we move now into spring the weather conditions should improve and the vessels will be able to spend much more time in the search area,” he said.

Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, said they had been working on the assumption that the flaperon found on Reunion was from MH370.

“It’s useful to have formal confirmation of this, so it’s good for us. But it hasn’t actually made a significant difference to our search,” he told news agency AFP on Friday.

Mr Dolan said the discovery of the flaperon on Reunion was consistent with ocean drift modelling based on the plane crashing in the Indian Ocean search area.

He said Australia was considering bringing in new vessels and equipment to take advantage of better weather in the upcoming southern hemisphere summer.

“We are currently reviewing the options available to us to see whether we will acquire other vessels and equipment for the summer period,” he said.