More signings to come for reborn Bullets

The Brisbane Bullets are poised to announce more player signings next week after unveiling Adam Gibson and Daniel Kickert as their first recruits for their comeback NBL season.

长沙夜网

Gibson, who spent the past four seasons with the Adelaide 36ers, has signed for three years while former Melbourne United big man Kickert has penned a two-year deal.

“I think their signing sends a very clear message right from the outset that we’re fully determined to put together a playing roster that is going to be highly competitive in our return to the NBL,” chief executive Mitchell Murphy said.

But it is just the start for the Andrej Lemanis-coached Bullets, who are deep in negotiations with several other players and are set to reveal further additions to the team in the coming days.

For Gibson it is a return to where it all started.

The 29-year-old Tasmanian made his professional debut in Brisbane in 2005, won the NBL title with them two years later and was there until the club’s dying days, when former owner Eddy Groves’ childcare empire collapsed and the club eventually dissolved, robbing the competition of one of its most iconic franchises.

“I always wanted to come back to Brisbane and I’ve got no doubt that if Brisbane had have stayed around this whole time I’d be a one club player,” Gibson said.

“When the opportunity arose I was definitely excited and jumped at it with open arms.”

Gibson said he was thrilled to have signed alongside Kickert, who made last season’s All-NBL First Team and enjoyed a successful eight-year career in Europe before joining Melbourne in 2014.

“Having Kicks on board to start this whole thing is massive – I think the best big man in the league last year,” Gibson said.

“Just having him there starts us on the right track and with some future signings to come, within time, we’re definitely going to have a great base.”

Murphy said the Bullets intend to fill all three of their import spots and will make an announcement regarding the team’s training base – one of the key decisions to be reached in Brisbane’s NBL rebirth – by the end of the month.

“It’s a mammoth task to rebuild this club in a short space of time but we’re in a very, very good position at the moment,” Murphy said.

Syrian rebels seize IS stronghold al-Rai

Syrian rebel forces have taken over a town near the Turkish border that had been the main stronghold of Islamic State in the northern Aleppo countryside, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

长沙夜网

The monitor said factions fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), some supplied with arms by Turkey and other foreign backers, captured the town of al-Rai after fierce battles with the militants.

“This is the beginning of the end of Daesh (Islamic State), those who have bet the FSA have been decimated are now proven wrong. It’s a victory for the Free Syrian Army,” said Abu Abdullah from the Nour al Din al Zinki brigade that participated in the assault on the heavily defended border town.

Related

“We will continue our path to al Raqqa and all the towns occupied by Daesh,” he said referring to Islamic State’s acronym in Arabic and its defacto capital.

The rebels said their next step was advancing towards the Islamic State-held city of al Bab, south of al Rai and northeast of Aleppo.

The recent gains by the mainly non-jihadist rebels is a boost to Turkey, which has sought to prevent Syrian Kurdish-led forces from expanding their stretch of territory along the border.

It was the first retreat by the Islamic State militants since they made major advances in that area last May against rival insurgents and captured areas close to the Azaz border crossing with Turkey.

Amaq news agency, which is linked to the militants, conceded that forces it described as “US- and Turkish-backed opposition brigades” had taken the town after days of intense “US bombing and Turkish artillery” fire.

The news agency said al-Rai fell after heavy clashes and two suicide bombings that led to many casualties among Islamic State opponents.

Related

The Sunni militants have used suicide bombings to hold back offensives by the Syrian army and their allies by deploying small groups of fighters to disrupt supply lines.

That is a change of tactics from ambushes and lightning attacks after the loss of significant territory, defence experts say.

A sustained rebel advance by mainstream rebel groups near the Turkish border this week that allowed the moderate non-jihadist rebels to capture a string of villages eroded Islamic State’s last foothold in an area identified by the United States as a priority in the fight against the group.

Combat terrorism through prosperity: SBY

Australia and Indonesia should work together to combat terrorism by lifting people around the globe out of poverty, a former Indonesian president believes.

长沙夜网

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is visiting Canberra, also praised Australia’s acceptance of Muslims as an inspiring example to a world troubled by Islamophobia.

He believes there is a direct link between a more prosperous world and a peaceful one, and is urging Australia to promote sustainable development goals.

“Then more poor will graduate to middle class and become the owner of a dignified life,” he told a defence policy conference on Friday.

Hundreds of millions of people were trapped in insecurity, injustice and marginalisation which led to hopelessness, he said.

“In some of these areas, fertile minds can become corrupted.”

In the digital era, the world was facing a “unique new battleground” in the struggle between tolerance and hatred.

Dr Yudhoyono – who is widely recognised as instrumental in improving the Australia-Indonesia relationship – paired the two nations as models of “open and free multicultural nations”.

“I know that Muslims in Australia feel free, respected and welcome,” he said.

“And this is an inspiring example to a world troubled by Islamophobia.”

The national security of the neighbours was also interrelated, as confirmed by the 2002 Bali bombings.

However, while reflecting on the improved relationship between Jakarta and Canberra – which had been elevated far above mutual mistrust over the past decade – Dr Yudhoyono issued a subtle warning to Australian governments.

Don’t leave Indonesia out of the loop.

The then-president recalled how he’d found out the United States was planing a marine force in Darwin while being interviewed by reporters at the APEC conference in 2011.

“It was a surprise to me,” he said.

“In any situation where Australia or their allies decide to deploy larger forces, especially in the northern part of Australia … it is critical to communicate with Indonesia.”

Dr Yudhoyono – who was president from 2004 to 2014 – was invited to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute conference as the keynote speaker, something former ambassador to the United States Kim Beazley described as amazing.

“It is an extraordinary thing, that at this very Australian gathering, the most significant speech has been made by you,” Mr Beazley told the former president.

“I cannot think of any foreign interlocutor that Australia has had over the years who has understood us so well.

“All I can say is that we don’t actually deserve it but it is good that we got it.”

Jobs growth tipped to rebound in March

Jobs growth is tipped to have picked up pace after stalling for months, but the unemployment rate is unlikely to improve.

长沙夜网

The March unemployment rate is forecast to rise to 5.9 per cent from February’s 5.8 per cent, according to an AAP survey of 13 economists.

But the number of Australians with a job is expected to have risen by 20,000 in March.

That follows a gain of just 300 jobs in February, and a fall of 7,900 in January and 1,400 in December.

“We’ve had three soft numbers. The pace of growth in employment is back more in line with where the indicators are,” Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk said.

Stellar jobs growth in the final quarter of 2015 is now drifting back to a more normal level, he said.

A surprise fall in the unemployment rate in February was closely related to a fall in the participation rate – a measure of the number of people either employed or actively looking for work.

Mr Smirk said that move looked questionable, suggesting there’s some issues with the Australian Bureau of Statistics survey itself.

“So it’s looking for a bit of a rebound,” he said.

The participation rate is expected to have risen to 65.0 per cent from 64.9 per cent in February, which would dilute the impact of jobs growth on the unemployment rate.

The Reserve Bank this week tweaked its language around the 2015 jobs improvement, suggesting the bank suspects it may now be in the past.

But Mr Smirk said the RBA focuses on broader trends, and the March labour force figures alone won’t shape the central bank’s May rates decision.

“Overall it’s a reasonably robust report outside the two states suffering the most from the readjustment from the mining boom, WA and Queensland,” he said.

The ABS will release its employment report on Thursday.

EMPLOYMENT REBOUNDS, JOBLESS RATE RISES

* Unemployment rate to rise to 5.9pct in March

* The number of people with jobs tipped to rise by 20,000

* Participation rate forecast to rise to 65.0pct

(Source: AAP survey of 13 economists)

NSW projects should use Aust steel: Greens

The NSW government is being urged to ensure Australian steel is used in all of the state’s construction projects amid the Arrium crisis.

长沙夜网

The troubled miner and steelmaker went into voluntary administration on Thursday, putting up to 7000 jobs at risk – including 2800 in NSW.

“The potential collapse of steelmaking in Whyalla shows why NSW parliament can’t delay and must immediately legislate for local steel procurement,” Greens MP David Shoebridge said on Thursday.

Mr Shoebridge said a recent Greens bill that placed a mandate on government infrastructure projects to use locally manufactured steel would secure the future of BlueScope Steel’s Port Kembla steelworks in the NSW Illawarra region.

“We want to bring the bill on for a vote in May when parliament returns,” he said.

“The NSW parliament has an opportunity to lead the way, and an obligation to adopt this as a template for procurement bills around the country to protect our steel industry.”

Mr Shoebridge criticised the government for using “steel imported from Spain” for major infrastructure projects such as the CBD and South East light rail developments.

“The cost of saving a few dollars by buying steel dumped on the Australian market by international companies is being paid by workers, their families and the communities who will all suffer if the domestic industry is allowed to fail,” he said.

BlueScope Steel’s 4500 workers and thousands of others in the Illawarra won a reprieve last year after the state government gave the troubled steelmaker $60 million in payroll tax relief.

Port Kembla workers also agreed to 500 job cuts, wage freezes, and workplace restructuring to help save the plant.

‘I’m there whenever I’m needed’

This is a story about my family.

长沙夜网

  Not my parents and brother and his family in Western Australia, but my family in Sydney.

Back in August 2000, I met a wonderful woman when I started a new job.  We were introduced by our mutual friend Sonja who said “you must look up Louisa – you will love her”.  She was right.  It wasn’t long before I met Louisa’s partner Kerri and we all quickly became great mates.

In 2005, after much debate, Louisa and Kerri decided that they wanted to have a child together.  However, there was the small issue of a bloke and his necessary contribution. The girls weighed up the pros and cons of a sperm bank or a known downer, and eventually decided that someone they knew would be best.  For two reasons – family medical history; and so that when any child asked “who’s my daddy”, they could point to someone and say “him”.

0:00 Share

Planning a rainbow family

So they asked me. My immediate gut reaction was “of course – the girls would make wonderful parents”, but perhaps I should think about this a bit more.  So we talked.  A lot.  We used an excellent document called “Talking Turkey” put together by the Inner City Legal Centre which outlined dozens of issues we needed to discuss.  From that, we put together our own agreement that outlined the dos and don’ts, the wills and won’ts of what we would do if we had a child.  The girls’ expectations matched mine, so we signed on the dotted line and started this amazing journey.

Zara was born less than a year later, ironically on Father’s Day.  As the due date approached (and passed!), Kerri (the co-parent) and I had a number of conversations about how we would feel when this baby was born.  What would I feel when I saw her/him for the first time?  Would Kerri bond with this child?  And a thousand others.  Luckily for us, what we hoped and expected would happen when Zara finally arrived did happen.

My role in the family

In the beginning, as far as the world was concerned there was no father.  We knew, of course, but we felt it was important for the world to see that the family unit was Louisa, Kerri and Zara.  So for that reason, and to protect both myself and the girls, my name was not on the birth certificate. That left the question of what to call me?  It was Louisa’s mother that came up with “Dash”, as that was exactly what was on the birth certificate: a hyphen.  It was the perfect name, and it sticks to this day.

So what was in it for me?  My reward at this point was the joy I received from giving a gift to the girls.  Sure – it was a pretty unique gift – but the joy is also extraordinary.  This was only further highlighted at Zara’s christening six months later when I realised it wasn’t just for Louisa & Kerri, but the large extended family of grandparents, uncles & aunts, cousins etc.  I cried like a baby at the christening when it really hit home what an extraordinary thing I had done.

But one wasn’t enough.  So in 2009 we tried again and Zachary soon arrived and we were now five.

How we’ve grown

Babies grow up into children.  Children develop personalities and start to form opinions of their own.  And there comes a time when it doesn’t matter what we agreed to back in 2005 because the kids will make their own minds up about how our family should work.  So we roll with that.  My role as a donor dad has changed and I am now very much part of our family.  I may not live with the girls (although I do live nearby), but I’m there whenever I’m needed.  For special occasions, or when an extra adult with a car might be required for school trips or babysitting.  It’s very handy to have a third parent, and the kids consider themselves lucky in having two mums AND a Dad.  I’m also very handy as a scapegoat.  The words “donor’s fault” are frequently bandied about the house. 

It’s also true that my relationship with the kids has changed.  I never expected how much the kids would come to mean to me (does any new parent?). I am incredibly lucky – to be asked in the first place, and for our relationship to work as successfully as it does.  Families come in all shapes and sizes and extend far beyond the walls of a home.  This is the shape of mine.

Tune in to #thefeedsbs at 7.30pm Monday-Thursday on SBS2, stream live, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or Vine.

 

Monis like ‘athlete preparing for event’

Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis was psyching himself up like an “athlete preparing for a big event” before he shot Lindt Cafe manager Tori Johnson, an inquest has heard.

长沙夜网

Louisa Hope – the last of the hostages to give evidence at the inquest into the December 2014 siege – has given her account of the terrifying final moments before Monis executed Mr Johnson, prompting police to storm the cafe.

Ms Hope was sitting with her eyes closed and in prayer when six other hostages fled the cafe shortly after 2am, she told the inquest on Thursday.

“I opened my eyes and realised everyone was gone,” she said.

Ms Hope, her mother Robin Hope, Mr Johnson and fellow hostages, Katrina Dawson and Marcia Mikhael still remained.

“I made the assumption he would probably come out and find me and kill me,” she said.

Instead Monis had ordered Ms Hope and her mother to stand either side of him, before calling out to Mr Johnson and telling him to kneel down with his hands on his head.

He then began “psyching himself up” as he scanned the room from side to side, apparently worried police were about to enter the building.

He was “huffing and puffing … like an athlete preparing for a big event”, Ms Hope said.

“Then he shot the gun and I felt the gunshot … Tori fell forward with his hands still at his head.”

On Wednesday hostage Selina Win Pe said that moments before Mr Johnson was killed, she heard a male Australian say the words, “‘Oh my God’,”.

Ms Hope said she was confident that was not the case, while also praising Mr Johnson.

“Tori Johnson stayed with my mother and I’m grateful,” she said.

The siege came to its deadly conclusion at about 2.14am when police stormed the building upon hearing the shot that killed Mr Johnson, having employed a “contain and negotiate” policy until that point.

But the inquest also heard on Thursday that police and security agencies should have picked up on signs Monis was becoming more radicalised.

A month before Monis seized control of the cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place, he publicly pledged allegiance to Islamic State. He had also previously written to Attorney-General George Brandis about contacting the extremist group and had been charged in relation to a murder.

Dr Kate Barrelle, a clinical psychologist with expertise in radicalisation, said Monis was “undoubtedly a terrorist” but he was “atypical”.

Counsel for Ms Dawson’s family, Phillip Boulten SC, put it to Dr Barrelle that there were signs over a long period of time that Monis had become fixated on ideological and political beliefs and had demonstrated no signs of deradicalisation.

“I suggest police and security agencies, people charged with keeping us safe, should have picked up on the fact that he was charged with murder and continued to carry on in this ideological fashion as fair predictors of him being inclined to commit a terrorist attack,” Mr Boulton said.

Dr Barrelle replied: “I say that I think that’s a very reasonably formulation.”

The inquest continues.

Malaysia’s 1MDB board offers to resign

A Malaysian parliamentary inquiry has slammed the board of state fund 1MDB for being irresponsible and urged a probe into its former chief, but stopped short of implicating Prime Minister Najib Razak who was an adviser to the troubled firm.

长沙夜网

Parliament’s public accounts committee (PAC) said on Thursday senior management at 1Malaysia Development Bhd withheld crucial information from the board and made transactions without its knowledge or approval.

The bipartisan PAC is the first Malaysian entity to level allegations against 1MDB, which is at the centre of corruption and money-laundering investigations in the United States, Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg.

US Department of Justice officials have asked Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co to provide details on their dealings with 1MDB, as the global investigation into 1MDB widens. Goldman Sachs’ relation with 1MDB is also under review.

The 1MDB fund, which had piled up more than 42 billion ringgit ($A14 billion) in debt since its inception in 2009, said its board of directors had collectively offered their resignations after the report.

The parliamentary report said former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi had to take responsibility.

“As such, enforcement agencies are asked to investigate Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and anyone else related,” the report said.

The executive board of the fund offered their resignations after the report was released.

It called for the advisory board of the fund – chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak – to be abolished and any reference to the prime minister be changed to finance minister in the company’s memorandum and articles of association.

Najib, who founded 1MDB in 2009, was not otherwise named in the report. Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing. He said the report showed that allegations by former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamed against him were false.

Mahathir quit the ruling party in February and has stood with the opposition in calling for Najib to resign over the 1MDB scandal, which has fuelled a sense of crisis in a country under economic strain from slumping oil prices and a prolonged slide in its currency last year.

Shortly after the report was released, opposition leader Tony Pua, who was part of the PAC, told a news conference Najib should at least be held culpable for the mismanagement at the fund.

Pua lamented the failure to get crucial information on 1MDB’s foreign banking transactions. The report did scrutinise several overseas transactions that it said were made without 1MDB board approval.

One was a $US700 million ($A920 million) transfer to an account belonging to a company named Good Star Ltd. Another unapproved transaction of $US300 million was made to 1MDB PetroSaudi Ltd, a joint-venture company set up in the British Virgin Islands.

The report also said billions of dollars in unexplained payments were paid to a company called “Aabar Investments PJS Ltd (Aabar Ltd)” in 2012 without board approval.

The report said 1MDB had not clarified whether Aabar Ltd was a subsidiary or linked to an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund called Aabar Investments or another Abu Dhabi fund called International Petroleum Investment Corp (IPIC).

The Wall street journal, citing documents from international probes, said investigators believed around $1 billion moved through state agencies, banks and companies linked to 1MDB before eventually finding its way into Najib’s personal accounts.

The 1MDB fund has denied any of its funds went to the prime minister. The Attorney-General cleared Najib in January of any corruption or criminal offences, saying the $US681 million was a gift from a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family and that most of it was returned.

Broncos keep Dragons scoreless in NRL

St George Illawarra have been held scoreless for the second week in a row, beaten 26-0 by a rampant Broncos in their NRL clash in Brisbane.

长沙夜网

The Broncos barely moved out of first gear on Thursday night but did more than enough to demonstrate the huge chasm in class between themselves and the error-riddled Dragons in front of 29,869 fans at Suncorp Stadium.

It is the first time a NRL team haven’t scored in consecutive matches since Cronulla’s three-match drought in 2014.

And this Dragons loss can’t be blamed on Benji Marshall, the veteran halfback who was in the gun after their nightmare loss last weekend to North Queensland.

Marshall was a late withdrawal for the Dragons due to a hamstring strain he picked up in the Cowboys match, and his teammates were unable to ignite their attack in his absence.

It is Brisbane’s fifth win of the year, third in a row and puts them clear on top of the ladder above second-placed Melbourne, who host Canterbury on Monday.

Coming off a tough five-day turnaround, the Dragons completed just nine of their 17 sets in the first half and were fortunate to go into the sheds only 12-0 down.

Corey Oates opened the scoring for Brisbane just three minutes in as the recipient of a mesmerising cut-out ball from the in-form Anthony Milford.

A Corey Parker penalty soon afterwards gave Brisbane a 6-0 lead, and then Alex Glenn slammed down a grubber from Ben Hunt in the 29th minute to widen the margin.

Even when the Dragons did generate openings, they were discovering brand new methods of self-sabotage.

Lock Jack de Belin looked certain to end a two-week wait for a St George Illawarra try when he brought two Brisbane defenders with him over the line in the 18th minute.

But replays showed his own arm was stopping him from grounding the ball.

Then early in the second half, winger Peter Mata’utia was played into a yawning gap just three metres out from the line – only to infuriate Dragons fans further by knocking on.

The Broncos duly made them pay as heavy legs began taking over late in the match, with Milford scoring in spectacular style right on the dead ball line in the 72nd minute, before a Hunt flick pass unleashed Jordan Kahu two minutes later.

Coach Wayne Bennett did not appear to overly thrilled by Brisbane’s performance.

Asked what he liked about their display after the match, Bennett said: “Two points – that’s it.

“I just didn’t like the way we played tonight. It was just a disjointed game.

“It was a better second half, a little bit, but the first half never really happened for either team.”

Dragons coach Paul McGregor said the effort of his players couldn’t be questioned.

“(Brisbane) did score 14 points in the last 15 minutes, but that was on the back end of a five-day turnaround and a North Queensland trip and they are a quality side,” he said.

“I’m comfortable with their effort and commitment to it.

“It’s just we’ve got to be a lot more intelligent and a lot more clinical.”

Charges laid over rape of 12-year-old girl

A Tasmanian man charged with the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old girl was caught almost two years after the incident when he allegedly flashed another person.

长沙夜网

Police are considering an appeal against a court decision to grant bail to the 39-year-old Devonport man, who has been charged with forcible abduction, three counts of rape, three counts of aggravated sexual assault and two counts of indecent assault in connection with the incident on May 6, 2014.

He is facing a separate charge of indecency linked to a reported flashing at Devonport in March, police Inspector Kim Steven told reporters on Thursday.

“We’ve recently obtained forensic and other evidence providing the information we needed to make the arrest – obtained following the act of indecency four weeks ago,” he said.

Detectives launched an intense investigation in 2014 after the girl’s abduction at Latrobe and Insp Steven said it is a relief to have the man in custody.

He recounted scant details of the incident in which the girl was missing for a period and when she got home and told her parents, police were alerted.

“Obviously it’s a traumatic incident, there’s no doubt that the rape of a 12-year-old girl in daylight in a public place – it doesn’t get much worse.”

The victim and her family have been told of the man’s arrest and are relieved, Insp Steven said.

The man was granted bail with strict conditions during an after hours court sitting overseen by a justice of the peace on Wednesday night.

“We did oppose the man’s bail … we are currently looking into whether we can appeal that decision,” Insp Steven said.