Morris and Graham racing the clock

Canterbury duo Brett Morris and James Graham will be given until the last minute to prove their fitness ahead of Monday’s clash against St George Illawarra.

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It will be Morris’ only chance to prove to NSW coach Laurie Daley he is over a troublesome hamstring issue that forced him on the sidelines since Round 5, before the Blues team is announced next Tuesday for Origin II.

Graham played just one match since the epic Good Friday defeat to South Sydney, a 27-minute cameo against the Roosters in Round 10 that was ended by concussion and a knee injury.

While both are expected to be named by coach Des Hasler on Tuesday evening they will be racing the clock to prove their fitness.

Veteran Sam Perrett said he was hopeful both players would be cleared for the clash against the NRL ladder-leaders.

“Fingers crossed. We’ve been watching the boys doing their fitness testing and they’re looking really good,” he said.

“We’ve got good medical staff there. They’re going to do everything they can to get out there.”

Should Morris be cleared to come back, it will be his first game against his former club since moving to Belmore over the summer.

The 28-year-old missed the 31-6 mauling they copped from the Dragons in Round 6.

“This’ll be a big one if he can make it back for this, definitely,” Perrett said.

“Anyone – if you play against your old club, you always bring out your best for them and you want to give your old mates a good run.”

However the biggest impact Morris’ return could make is on the make-up of Daley’s side for their must-win Origin clash in Melbourne.

Arguably the best winger in the world and a veteran of over 10 Origin appearances, a fit Morris would be a huge injection of speed and experience for the Blues team that badly lacked both in the series-opener.

But Perrett said his teammate would probably have to prove his hamstring could withstand the rigours of NRL football after his lengthy stint on the sidelines.

“His focus is definitely at club level first and getting everything right there. Origin and representative footy doesn’t happen if you’re not performing at club level,” he said.

Graham has played just the one game since the epic Good Friday defeat to South Sydney, a 27-minute cameo against the Roosters in Round 10 that was ended by concussion and a knee injury.

The Bulldogs captain missed the side’s last-start win over the Raiders but centre Tim Lafai said the long turnaround would give both Morris and Graham every chance of taking the field.

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Saker keen to get Pattinson on the park

New Victoria coach David Saker feels James Pattinson has the potential to be one of the best bowlers in the world.

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Pattinson was ruled out of Australia’s tour of the West Indies due to a hamstring injury, the latest in a long line of setbacks.

Since being sent home from the 2013 Ashes tour due to a stress fracture of the lower back, the paceman has played only one Test.

That was against South Africa in 2014, when he suffered another back injury.

Prior to that there were foot and side issues, meaning the 25-year-old has played only 13 Tests.

“James is a special sort of talent. We’ve got to try and get him on the park, not just for Victoria but Australia,” Saker said on Tuesday.

“If he gets on the park, he’s one of the best bowlers in the world.

“He’s had some injury dramas, most fast bowlers do.

“But we can sort that out. I’m really excited to be working with him again.”

Saker was an assistant coach at Victoria when Pattinson first showed how well he could swing the ball and bother batsmen.

The former England bowling coach is confident the 25-year-old has the mettle to return to his best.

“I’m sure fast bowlers do go through that (self-doubt),” Saker said.

“But if you know the character he is, he’ll just keep fighting and keep fighting.”

The Bushrangers may be reigning Sheffield Shield champions, but there’s plenty for Saker to work on.

Take for example the state’s one-day record.

In the past 16 seasons, Victoria have only once won the 50-over competition.

It’s something the 49-year-old, who carved out an impressive playing career with Victoria and Tasmania, is desperate to change.

“Our one-day cricket last year was quite disappointing,” Saker said.

“Quite a lot of our pre-season will be focused on Matador Cup.

“We have to perform better than we did last year and with the team we’ve got, we should be able to do that.”

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Disturbing mobile phone video shows IS militants torturing Syrian boy

NOTE: This video contains graphic testimony and scenes of torture.

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The disturbing footage shows a blindfolded 14-year-old Ahmed beaten and electrocuted by IS militants, as he is hung by his wrists. 

Two masked militants interrogate and torture Ahmed as hangs from the ceiling. One man can be seen holding a knife and pistol, while the other carries an AK-47. 

The video was obtained by BBC journalist Quentin Sommerville. 

“When they electrocuted me, I used to scream calling for my mother,” Ahmed told the BBC, after fleeing to neighbouring Turkey. “But as soon as I did, [one of the torturers] used to up the voltage even more. ‘Don’t bring your mother in it,’ he used to say.”

“They pretend they’re religious, but they’re infidels. They used to smoke. They pretend to be enforcing the rules of Muslims, but they’re not. They hit and kill people”.

Ahmed, who sold bread for a living in the Syrian city of Raqqa, told the BBC he was tricked into placing a bag carrying a bomb near an IS meeting place. 

Though he was captured by the group and sentenced to death for his crime, the executioner released the boy out of pity. 

“It’s rare that I’m able to sleep,” Ahmed said. “When I first came to Turkey, I used to have nightmares all the time. I got some treatment. But I couldn’t sleep – I used to dream about it all the time.

“Whenever I closed my eyes, I used to have nightmares then stay up all night.”

BBC journalist Quentin Sommerville said he obtained the footage from an IS militant, who has since defected from the group. The man said they filmed Ahmed’s torture for “propaganda purposes”.

“I am regretting every moment,” the man told the BBC. “When I joined IS, I wasn’t convinced of it but I had to.

“Although I wasn’t particularly heavy-handed with people, I hope that the people I hurt will forgive me.”

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Pies heading in right direction: Buckley

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley is quietly confident Sunday’s stunning second-half comeback against North Melbourne is a sign of things to come for the Pies.

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Buckley’s men were outplayed in the first half at the MCG and trailed by 39 points before a blistering attack propelled them back inside the top four with their sixth win of the season.

The coach believes his team is still very much a work in progress but, with 39 fit players to choose from this week, he’s bullish about their prospects.

“Our trajectory is going in the right direction,” Buckley said on Tuesday.

“Without the wins and losses taken into account, which is clearly what you end up being judged on, but looking at the general trend and the sort of footy that you see us play, I see that we’re heading in the right direction.

“What you see on the field week in and week out, we think that’s building. We’re finding out what we’re capable of, but in my view we’re just at the tip of the iceberg.”

After breaking his leg in the pre-season, former Kangaroo onballer Levi Greenwood moves a step closer to making his Collingwood debut when he plays his first VFL game of the season this weekend.

Heralded father-son recruit Darcy Moore also returns in the VFL after a hamstring injury, while Buckley said luckless defender Ben Reid had played his best game of the season in the reserves last weekend as he works toward an AFL return – most likely after the bye.

“You’re very rarely going to have 100 per cent choice on your list but we’re in as good a shape as we’ve been for four years,” Buckley said.

“It’s a positive sign. It’s something that we’ve got right that, if we put the right work in, we can take advantage of.”

The coach admitted that skipper Scott Pendlebury was carrying a niggling injury, but added that most AFL players were at this point of the season.

The Pies have a longer week as they prepare for the traditional Queen’s Birthday clash against Melbourne, with Buckley determined to taper his players’ preparation to have them ready to start strongly against the Demons.

“Melbourne have played some really strong, hard, contested football and I’ve been really impressed with some of their youth coming through,” he said.

“Their best footy’s been pretty good but on the other side they’ve allowed the opposition to score (freely).

“It’s not dissimilar to where we’ve been so we’re not taking anything for granted.”

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Nadal, Djokovic set for French Open epic

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal share the most enduring grand slam rivalry in professional tennis history.

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They are the only two men to have clashed in all four major finals in the open era and are preparing for the 44th instalment of their decade-long series.

But the stakes have rarely been higher as the all-time giants of the game prepare for a French Open quarter-final for the ages on Wednesday.

Djokovic, the world No.1 and top seed, must win to keep alive his dream of following Nadal, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi and Rod Laver to become only the fifth man in the modern era to complete a career grand slam.

Nadal, the undisputed king of clay, is striving to become the first man in history to win the same slam 10 times, a colossal feat unlikely ever to be matched.

After enduring a wretched 12 months battling injury, illness and self doubt, the Spaniard is, by his legendary standards, seeded a lowly sixth in 2015 and playing down his chances.

By contrast, four crushing straight-sets wins have taken his unbeaten streak to 26 matches since losing to Federer in February and fuelled Djokovic’s belief that now is finally his time to reign in the French capital.

Nothing, though, can mask Nadal’s mastery over Djokovic at Roland Garros.

Six times the Majorcan has shattered the Serb’s title hopes in Paris, most painfully in 2012 when Djokovic had conquered Nadal in the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open finals to stand on the verge of a rare grand slam sweep heading into the title match.

Nadal not only won, but then took the pair’s 2013 semi-final and 2014 final.

All up, he heads Djokovic 9-3 in best-of-five-set grand slam meetings.

The last time Djokovic denied Nadal at a slam, it took the Serb five hours and 54 minutes in their record-setting 2012 Australian Open final.

The 14-times major champion enters the latest clash – their earliest at a grand slam since the very first of their career meetings back in 2006 in Paris – having extended his decade-long Roland Garros record to 70 wins and just one defeat.

“It’s the biggest challenge I can have on clay,” Djokovic said after routing France’s Richard Gasquet 6-1 6-2 6-3 in a fourth-round cakewalk on Monday.

“Playing him here and playing him in any other tournament is completely different.

“The conditions are very suited to his style of game. He loves playing on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“I am trying to keep my routine the same and not give so much importance to the match. I know what to do, I know what’s expected of me.”

Despite his dominant record, Nadal is happy to play the underdog role this time around in a quarter-final being played on his 29th birthday.

“He’s the world No.1 and is having a great season. It’ll be a complicated match,” Nadal said after dropping his first set of the tournament in a 6-3 6-1 5-7 6-2 fourth-round win over the United States’ Jack Sock.

“To have any chance against him, I have to play my real best tennis.”

1-NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SRB) trails 6-RAFAEL NADAL (ESP) 23-20

Nadal 9-3 in grand slam matches

2014 French Open, clay, F, Nadal 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4

2013 US Open, hard, F, Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1

2013 French Open, clay, SF, Nadal 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 9-7

2012 French Open, clay, F, Nadal 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5

2012 Australian Open, hard, F, Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5

2011 US Open, hard, F, Djokovic 6-2 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-1

2011 Wimbledon, grass, F, Djokovic 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3

2010 US Open, hard, F, Nadal 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2

2008 French Open, clay, SF, Nadal 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7-3)

2007 Wimbledon, grass, SF, Nadal 3-6 6-1 4-1 – retired

2007 French Open, clay, SF, Nadal 7-5 6-4 6-2

2006 French Open, clay, QF, Nadal 6-4 6-4 – retired

NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SRB)

Age: 28

Ranking: 1

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US78,397,032 ($A103.06 million)

Career titles: 53

Grand slam titles: 8 (Australian Open 2008, 2011-2013, 2015; Wimbledon 2011, 2014; US Open 2011)

French Open win-loss record: 46-10

Best French Open performances: finalist 2012, 2014

RAFAEL NADAL (ESP)

Age: 28

Ranking: 7

Plays: left-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US72,745,277 ($A91.90 million)

Career titles: 65

Grand slam titles: 14 (Australian Open 2009; French Open 2005-08, 2010-14; Wimbledon 2008, 2010; US Open 2010, 2013)

French Open win-loss record: 70-1

Best French Open performances: champion 2005-08, 2010-14

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Fitzgibbons triumphs with burst eardrum

Australian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons has defied medical advice and a perforated eardrum to reach the quarter-finals at the Fiji Women’s Pro.

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The defending champion had a bandage covering her ear as she scored a 17.10 against compatriot Laura Enever (14.77) and the United States’ Lakey Peterson (13.07) in their third-round heat at Cloudbreak on Tuesday.

The three-time world championship runner-up was in visible pain after falling on her side in a second-round wipeout.

She said medical advice was to stop surfing and advised others not to surf with such an injury.

“When it happened, the waves were going morphed,” she said.

“It was really a shock to the system.

“I came back to regroup and thought it’s not ideal but I really had to give it a shot.”

Victorian Nikki Van Dijk (11.27) dealt with messy conditions to claim the round against NSW’s world No.3 Tyler Wright (8.67) and Hawaii’s Malia Manuel (10.50).

It was a breakthrough for the 20-year-old, who was last year left bloodied and stitched after hitting the reef at the same event.

“I know how it feels to get hurt like Sally and it was really good to watch her getting back out there,” Van Dijk said.

“I’m trying to think about that and just having a great time.”

Both winning Aussies get to leapfrog the sudden-death fourth round.

Enever will battle Hawaii’s Coco Ho, while Wright will battle France’s Johanne Defay in fourth-round elimination heats.

Queenslanders Keely Andrew (8.27) was knocked out by Manuel (12.87) in the second round, while Dimity Stoyle (14.17) was shown the door by Defay (15.10).

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Call for laws to curb indigenous jailings

Indigenous children are being locked up while they await trial for crimes that don’t even carry a prison sentence, Amnesty International claims.

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The human rights group is recommending new laws that prevent pre-trial jailing of young people unless detention is the last resort.

Indigenous youth are 26 times more likely to be jailed than non-indigenous young people and 58 per cent of 10-17 year olds in prison are indigenous, despite making up just six per cent of the population.

The human rights group says Australia incarcerates indigenous children, as young as 10, at one of the highest rates in the developed world.

Often indigenous children are jailed because they are homeless or have unsuitable accommodation options, the report found.

Some were later proven innocent despite spending time in prison, while others are convicted of crimes that are not punished with jail time.

The report, titled A Brighter Tomorrow and released by Amnesty International head Salil Shetty at Canberra’s National Press Club on Tuesday, calls for better bail accommodation and support services for young people.

“Sadly, once these children have been locked up … the likelihood is they will spend the rest of their lives caught in the revolving door of the criminal justice system,” he said.

In a raft of recommendations aimed at reducing indigenous youth imprisonment, the report calls for the end to mandatory detention for anyone under 17.

It also wants the commonwealth to overrule any state and territory legislation that does not conform with the UN Convention of Rights of the Child.

Specifically, it wants those laws to target any jurisdiction that treats a person up to the age of 17 as an adult or considers any child under the age of 12 as criminally responsible.

Amnesty also reignites calls for putting in place Closing the Gap justice targets to set a goal for reducing indigenous over-representation in Australian prisons.

Justice targets have been ruled out by the Abbott government which argues action on the ground is more important than goals on paper.

The report also highlights the role of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in incarceration rates and calls for more action on diagnosing and treating affected children.

The disorder is contracted by children whose mothers abuse alcohol or drugs and leaves them with behavioural problems, learning difficulties and other impairments.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Mick Gooda says a lot of the reasons indigenous youth are behind bars are preventable.

“This is a national emergency. This must change, urgently,” he says.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS:

* Enact federal laws to override any state or territory legislation that doesn’t confirm to the Convention of the Rights of the Child

* Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and allow inspections of youth detention centres

* Introduce a Closing the Gap justice target with states and territories

* Maintain funding for the Family Violence Prevention Legal Service and the peak indigenous services body NATSILS

* Urgently finalise an official tool for diagnosing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and recognise the condition as a disability under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

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Tigers won’t focus on Fyfe: Riewoldt

Richmond face the toughest task in football on Friday night, but Jack Riewoldt says it’s not just Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe who stands between the Tigers and a season-defining win.

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Fyfe’s stunning season reached new heights with a 40-possession performance against Adelaide and, while Riewoldt agreed he’s in career-best form, he says the Tigers can’t make it all about curbing the gifted onballer’s influence.

Or can they?

“We’re going to tag him with every player that we’ve got,” Riewoldt joked on Tuesday.

“He’s such a great player.

“He’s such a hard player to play on but for us it’s about team defence. We’re not going to focus on one individual.

“There’s another 21 guys out there who are playing some great footy.

“We need to play a really good team defence game and then obviously try and hurt them on offence as well.”

The unbeaten Dockers are two games clear on top of the ladder heading into round 10, but the Tigers’ season is also gathering momentum with Saturday night’s Dreamtime at the ‘G win their third in a row.

Richmond beat West Coast in their last two trips to Perth and Riewoldt said Subiaco holds no fears for his team.

“It’s going to be a great test for us,” he said.

“Domain Stadium has obviously been a little bit of a happy hunting ground for us, we’ve played some pretty good footy over there over the last three or four years.

“But we’re coming up against the best side in the AFL at the moment. They’re playing some excellent footy with some individual brilliance and some really good team structures.”

The outlook at Punt Road wasn’t nearly as rosy a month ago when Damien Hardwick’s side struggled to a 2-4 start to the season that mirrored last year’s campaign, which ended with a barnstorming nine-game winning streak.

“Sometimes you can be a bit rusty at the start of a season,” Riewoldt said.

“It’s just about evolving as the season goes on.

“We really started to hit our straps towards the back end of last season, where we saw some great wins in a row, and hopefully for us that’s started earlier.”

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Pact Group in talks to buy Jalco

Two makers of products found in almost all Australian kitchens and bathrooms are considering a takeover.

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Packaging manufacturer Pact Group has confirmed ongoing speculation it is in talks to buy consumer goods maker Jalco, which is chaired by Barry Smorgon, a member of one of Australia’s wealthiest families.

“However, Pact confirms that it has not entered into an agreement to acquire Jalco, nor is there any certainty that it will acquire Jalco,” Pact said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sydney-based Jalco manufacturers products ranging from washing powders to shampoo, sunscreen, automotive fluids, plastic bottles and diet supplements, for some of the world’s biggest brands.

Those brands include Unilever, Alberto Culver, Avon and Colgate.

Melbourne-based Pact makes a huge range of plastic packaging for products found in many homes, for clients including Woolworths, Coles, Schweppes and Unilever, and also recycles plastics.

Jalco was put up for sale in 2014 and has been in talks with Pact for several months, according to media reports.

Mr Smorgon, a member of the billionaire Smorgan family, became executive chairman in 1996.

He was previously a director and executive of Smorgan Consolidated Industries, one of Australia’s largest private companies.

Pact has 62 manufacturing plants across Australia, New Zealand and Asia, with more than 3,500 employees.

It is chaired by Raphael Geminder, who founded the company in 2002. Prior to that, Mr Geminder was the co-founder and chairman of Visy Recycling.

He is married to Fiona Geminder, the youngest daughter of late packaging tycoon and Visy Group chairman Richard Pratt.

Pact listed on the Australian share market in December 2013, and made a profit of $41.8 million in the first half of the current financial year.

Shares in Pact were up one cent at $4.22 at 1410 AEST.

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Australia urged to ‘come clean’ on emissions reductions efforts

(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

Australia is being urged to be honest about its efforts to combat climate change at a United Nations meeting in the German city of Bonn this week.

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Australia has already given written answers to questions posed by China, the United States and the European Union about its emission reduction targets.

But the Climate Institute says the government’s responses “lack transparency”, and it’s hoping for clarity during direct questions on Thursday.

Phillippa Carisbrooke reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

Delegates from more than 190 nations are meeting in Bonn.

They’re trying to negotiate a new international agreement on limiting global warming that they hope can can be signed at a key climate meeting in Paris in December.

Among issues to be discussed are rules and processes to ensure countries’ actions are visible and transparent, and that nations are accountable for the actions they commit to.

Australia will be publicly scrutinized in Bonn about the impact of its domestic policies.

In written responses to questions asked by the United States, China, Brazil, the European Union and Switzerland, the government this week said it was “firmly committed” to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.

But the Climate Institute says it failed to provide any estimate of the reductions it will deliver under current policy.

The Deputy Chief Executive of the Institute, Erwin Jackson, says the government is undermining its credibility by not being clear about its actions.

“The core of the Paris agreement is going to need to be one that ensures countries are transparent about the actions that they take; ensures that they are accountable for their domestic policies internationally – and Australia is undermining its case for that kind of agreement by not being transparent itself.”

Oxfam Australia says the government’s answers fail to make any clearer how Australia will meet its existing commitments, let alone the stronger commitments expected under a deal in Paris.

Its climate change policy advisor, Doctor Simon Bradshaw, says Australia’s international credibility is under threat.

“We are yet to put a commitment on the table for the post-2020 period when the new agreement will come into effect. A lot of eyes are on Australia at the moment and what we will bring to the table. And of course we have everything we need to be taking strong climate action; it’s just having the political will for it.”

The Climate Council describes Australia’s target of a 5 per cent cut to emissions as “woefully low”.

Chief Executive of the crowd-funded independent group, Amanda McKenzie, expects pressure to grow on Australia as more and more countries commit to post-2020 emission reduction targets.

“Countries doing more means other countries do more. Countries doing less, like Australia, can pull back international negotiations. So what we are hoping is that Australia does it part to build momentum towards Paris.”

The federal government says it will submit its post-2020 emissions reduction targets to the United Nations mid year, after consultation with the broader community.

 

 

 

 

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