Archive for December, 2018

Usain Bolt isn’t sponsored by Nike, but he’s got Sam Kerr’s tick of approval.

The first woman to claim marquee status in believes the Jamaican sprint king is worth similar money after his historic two-goal brace on Friday.

Kerr and Japanese star Keisuke Honda will headline the respective W-League and A-League launches in Sydney on Monday.

But missing will be the league’s most famous trialist in Bolt, who has captured the imagination of the world with his audacious code switch with Central Coast.

“If I wasn’t a Nike athlete, I definitely would be rocking a Central Coast jersey with (number) 95 on it,” Kerr told AAP.

“I’m not going to lie: I turned on the Central Coast game the other day just to watch him. So if it’s appealing to people like me, I’m sure it is to other people.”

Bolt declared Friday’s trial against a select Macarthur South West United team could make or break his professional soccer career.

And the 32-year-old delivered with a two-goal performance, instantly raising hope of turning his trial into a full-time contract.

But while the A-League has recognised its need for more marquee players, it is believed Bolt wouldn’t come close to meeting the criteria.

Instead, A-League officials insist they could assist the Mariners by way of a marketing arrangement, as well as enabling third party sponsorships.

Bolt also has a number of personal sponsorships that could count against him.

Kerr, who would have been a glaring omission this year if it wasn’t for marquee funding, conceded Bolt had brought unprecedented attention to the league.

“I’ve seen the Central Coast badge all over the world over the last few days, and that was never going to happen (without him),” Kerr said.

“He brings star power. He’s amazing to watch.

“He’s an amazing athlete, so hopefully he can make it. It’d be so good for the rest of the world to be talking about the A-League and n football.”

Mariners star signing Tommy Oar said the playing group had been left stunned by Bolt’s determination to make the switch a reality.

And he predicts the n public would make the extra money worth it.

“When it comes to performing on the big stage – that was his first professional game the other day – he bagged a brace,” Oar said.

“It shows that he’s able to step up on under the pressure. And if he keeps improving at his current rate, I can’t see why he can’t be an asset for us.

“Obviously commercially, he adds huge benefits. But I think people are forget how much of a phenomenal athlete he is and how quickly he can develop new skills.”

Terrico White has been a useful addition for the PErth Wildcats.The Perth Wildcats have displayed greater firepower at both ends of the court in their perfect start to the new NBL season.

The Cats are already seeing the benefits of adding Nick Kay from Illawarra and luring Tom Jervis back from the Brisbane Bullets.

The pair have been instrumental in the Cats’ first two wins to start the season, with big man Angus Brandt working to regain fitness after injuring his ankle during the pre-season.

The Cats were impressive in beating Adelaide by eight points and Illawarra by 40.

Brandt played only seven minutes against the 36ers and 13 minutes against the Hawks, but Perth managed to take the rebounding honours in both games.

Coach Trevor Gleeson seems particularly pleased with how Kay has started.

“Nick Kay does a tremendous amount of work under the rim; that’s why we recruited him, to do the hard work and he is always there,” he said.

“There’s a saying, ‘all the action is in the kitchen, so be in the kitchen, not out on the porch’.

“Nick seems to be in the action all of the time.

“It’s something we take pride in, that work on that glass.”

It’s the addition of US import Terrico White that is likely to have the biggest impact on the Cats qualifying for their record 33rd consecutive NBL finals series though.

He has added the extra scoring power that the Cats lacked last season.

Perth were led by MVP Bryce Cotton in 2017-18, with an average of almost 20 points and three assists per game. But there weren’t many other hitting the scoreboard consistently.

White has scored 20 points in each of the Cats’ two wins to start the season and doesn’t mind shooting from long range.

With Kay, Brandt and another new-comer Mitch Norton also hitting the scoreboard regularly, the Cats have managed 99 points and 101 points in their two outings.

The bench has added 24 points and 48 points respectively in those wins.

Laws protecting gay teachers from discrimination at religious schools will have to wait despite pressure from Labor and some Liberals to bring them in now.

Instead, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the government is immediately focused on protecting gay students from any religious school discrimination.

The federal parliament will this week remove the power of faith-based schools to discriminate against children on the basis of their sexuality.

Labor leader Bill Shorten wants to extend this further by scrapping the ability of religious schools to hire and fire staff based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.

But Mr Morrison said the teachers would have to wait.

“They are important issues, but the issues we need to address right here and now relate to the children and ensuring we protect them against discrimination,” he told parliament on Monday.

“There are many other issues that will be addressed as a result of the religious freedoms review, and there will be a time and a place to address those issues.”

The review, led by former attorney-general Philip Ruddock, recommended laws should be changed so religious schools could discriminate against gay teachers and students.

Religious schools in most states have been able to exclude LGBTI students since 2013, but have not been using the powers.

Mr Shorten said religious educators had told him they don’t need the exemption.

“These laws are no longer appropriate, if indeed they ever were appropriate. It’s time our laws reflected the values we teach our children,” Mr Shorten told AAP.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also thinks the laws need to change.

“I don’t think there’s any room for discrimination, be it a student or against a teacher,” he told the ABC.

“I do think we need to ensure that there is no discrimination in either our workplaces or in our schools.”

Liberal candidate for Wentworth Dave Sharma, who is facing a crucial by-election on Saturday, said schools should “absolutely not” have the right to discriminate against gay teachers.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott said he was mystified by the debate, saying there was no evidence gay kids had been discriminated against.

“By all means let’s protect people against discrimination,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

“But let’s be very careful that anti-discrimination laws designed as shields are not converted by activists into swords.”

The n Christian Lobby said freedom of religion required church bodies and organisations to “be able to select members who share their faith or ethos”.

Bill Shorten and Scott Morrison are expected agree on getting tax cuts through when parliament sits.Small business tax cuts and protecting LGBT students from being excluded by religious schools are two issues tipped to evoke rare displays of bipartisanship when federal parliament resumes.

After three weeks away from Canberra, the government and Labor will agree this week on fast-tracking a new 25 per cent corporate tax rate for businesses with turnovers under $50 million.

The draft laws are expected to be presented to parliament mid-week.

Both sides of the house are also eager to ensure religious schools can’t discriminate against LGBTI students.

A controversial review of religious freedoms, led by former Liberal minister Philip Ruddock, has recommended allowing religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of their sexuality.

But Mr Morrison revealed on Saturday the government would reject the advice, opting instead to strengthen discrimination laws to remove any opportunity for schools to discriminate.

The coalition is working on amendments it plans to make law within the next two weeks.

Mr Shorten wrote to the prime minister on Friday, offering his support for changes to the Sex Discrimination Act.

But he wants to view the religious freedoms review in full, with its recommendations only made public after being leaked to the media.

The Greens want an amendment that would also protect LGBT teachers, an issue Labor thinks should be discussed.

Despite some expected displays of bipartisanship, the opposition will press the government on school and hospital funding and the coalition’s commitment to further big business tax cuts.

The My Health Record system will return to the spotlight with Labor pushing for further changes to ensure private health insurers can never get their hands on its data.

Labor will also seek changes to better protect the privacy of employees and women fleeing domestic violence.

The October 20 by-election in Malcolm Turnbull’s former Sydney seat of Wentworth will loom large, with Liberal candidate Dave Sharma facing off against independent Kerryn Phelps.

Polls show the race is extremely close, with a loss for the government a threat to its one-seat majority.

A Queensland teenager who took her own life had been left without proper care when she left an adolescent mental health centre that was later closed by the state government, her mother says.

Caitlin Wilkinson Whiticker, 18, was one of three teenagers who took their own lives within eight months of the then Liberal National state government controversially closing Brisbane’s Barrett Adolescent Centre in 2014.

The Brisbane Coroners Court is investigating the immediate circumstances surrounding the deaths of Ms Wilkinson Whiticker, 17-year-old Talieha Nebauer and Will Fowell, 18, as well as the impact on them of the closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre.

It was the only facility to provide long-term, in-patient treatment for young people with complex mental illnesses and its closure quickly became a politically and emotionally charged issue.

Ms Wilkinson Whiticker had been a long-term, voluntary patient at the centre, where necessary services were either provided on site or arranged by its staff.

Once patients left, they were transitioned into services that were provided in the community, a process the girl had begun about a year before the centre was shuttered.

Her mother, Justine Wilkinson, told reporters outside the inquest on Monday her daughter would have had a better chance with the right support and treatment.

“If she’d just had the right supports and the right sort of treatment from Queensland Health, and the right attitudes amongst clinicians … then she would have stood a much better chance,” Ms Wilkinson said.

“Without (the Barrett Centre), she had nothing.”

A commission of inquiry has since found that warnings from experts about the significant risks to patients, should the centre be shut without a replacement, were ignored.

Susan Byth, a GP who saw the teen in the months before her death, told the inquest on Monday that Ms Wilkinson Whiticker had appeared normal throughout their appointments.

The doctor said at one point the girl told her she had stopped taking the mood stabiliser lithium at the instruction of Princess Alexandra Hospital staff, who were also treating her.

Dr Blyth told the inquest she was under the impression doctors at the hospital were then taking the lead on monitoring her dosage and additional care needs.

Shine Lawyers solicitor Tiffany Marsh, who represents the mothers of the three teens, says they want answers from the inquests.

“These families have already been through so much already and were hoping to achieve … closure through the answers to their questions,” she said.

“It’s been an awful experience that they’ve had to go through.”

A facility to replace the Barrett Centre at the Prince Charles Hospital is not expected to open until 2020.

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Hurricane Leslie has damaged buildings and cut power across Portugal before moving on to Spain.A weakened hurricane Leslie has slammed into the coast of Portugal, leaving 27 people injured as it uprooted trees, brought down power lines and smashed store windows with gusting winds and heavy rain.

More than 60 people were forced to leave their homes by the storm and over 300,000 people were hit by power outages overnight, Luis Belo Costa of Portugal’s National Protection Agency said. He also gave the injury toll but added that none of the injuries were life-threatening.

Leslie had been downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone with winds of 110km/h by the time it landed on Portugal’s Atlantic coast late on Saturday.

But state broadcaster RTP said Leslie’s wind speeds reached 170km/h in the coastal town of Figueira da Foz, 200km north of Lisbon. Portugal’s weather service had issued red warnings for high winds or dangerous coastal conditions for 13 of its 18 mainland districts, including Lisbon.

Winds sent trees crashing on to cars and footpaths in the Portuguese capital and in the northern city of Porto.

Over 200 power lines were affected by the storm, according to reports citing power authority EDP. Some flights were also cancelled or delayed.

Leslie moved east on Sunday across the Iberian Peninsula to Spain, where authorities issued warnings for heavy rains and storm conditions for the northern part of the country.

Leslie is a bit of a weather outlier since hurricanes that regularly batter the American side of the Atlantic rarely bring their destructive power all the way across the ocean to Europe.

A rally to decriminalise abortion washeld ahead of debate in the Queensland parliament this week.Counselling services run by pro-life groups have been put on notice by Queensland’s Health Minister Steven Miles, who claims they are misleading women.

The minister has written to the federal health ombudsman, claiming some pro-life organisations give women incorrect information and do not transparently declare their background.

“In some of the recordings I’ve heard they tell women they risk getting breast cancer from an abortion, which has been proven to be incorrect,” Mr Miles said.

“They tell women that many women never recover from having an abortion, and they just generally encourage them not to exercise that option.”

Mr Miles said the organisations often used neutral-sounding names despite strongly advocating a pro-life stance.

Some of the organisations identified by the minister in his letter to the ombudsman include Priceless House, Rachel’s Vineyard and Pregnancy Help .

“Look, it’s no secret that Children By Choice offer a counselling service, but they’re honest about it; (these organisations) use front telephone numbers and front names to be dishonest with women.”

It comes as around a thousand people braved cold and rainy conditions in Brisbane to rally for abortion to be decriminalised on Sunday, ahead of the legislation being debated in parliament this week.

Mr Miles spokes at the rally, as did Federal Greens Senator Larissa Waters, former federal LNP Senator Sue Boyce, and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

The laws would take abortion out of the criminal code and make it a health issue, allowing women to terminate pregnancies up to 22 weeks’ gestation.

Both the Labor government and the LNP opposition have granted their MPs a conscience vote on the issue, meaning at least a few LNP members would need to vote for the laws to ensure they were passed.

Ms Trad said she believed they would get the numbers to pass the legislation, but continue to speak to MPs until the vote.

“There have been conversations happening constantly over the course of the last two months,” Ms Trad said.

“I think it’s fair to say there is strong support for these laws that were independently drafted by the Queensland Law Reform Commission.”

All the speakers urged those gathered to find out which way their local MP would be voting on the issue and urge them to vote to pass the legislation.

Under the changes, abortion would be allowed after 22 weeks with the approval of two separate doctors.

They would also enforce safe zones around clinics and medical facilities offering the procedure to stop staff and patients being harassed by anti-abortion activists.

n Invictus athlete Jamie Tanner will compete in his third and final Games in Sydney.Prince Harry’s Invictus Games unite thousands of wounded veterans from around the world through sport, but unlike most sporting contests this event isn’t about winning medals.

For the 500 competitors from 18 countries competing at the week-long Games in Sydney this month, just being there is victory enough.

While they have gone through rounds of qualifications to secure a spot on their country’s team, selectors have also given huge consideration to who will benefit the most from the Games in terms of their rehabilitation.

For corporal Taryn Barbara, being part of this year’s Games has helped her deal with the mental and physical demons she faces on a daily basis because of hip and back injuries she suffered during an army physical training course.

The Brisbane-based army physical training instructor will compete in swimming events at the Sydney Games, which run from October 20-27.

“Being in the military, you are always trying to push through and hope things will get better but you end up making it worse. I was in denial about how bad it was,” the 32-year-old mum of two said.

“Invictus has been one of the best things I’ve done, just with helping my mental space.

“I think sometimes you become jaded and look at all the negatives but Invictus highlights the positive things.”

Sydney is the fourth city to host the Invictus Games since the inaugural event in London in 2014.

will field its biggest team yet, with 72 athletes competing in 11 adaptive sports including athletics, archery, swimming, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.

Prince Harry’s inspiration to create an annual sporting event for wounded and ill veterans and serving military personnel came from his decade-long service with the British Army.

He was convinced sport could play a key role in helping wounded veterans “fix their lives” and raise awareness about the role they can play in the community.

Last year Harry cheekily summed up the ethos of the Games, telling British team members preparing to compete in Toronto: “Whether you are blowing smoke out of your arse as you cross the line makes no difference. It is what you are achieving, what you have achieved to get there.”

For Invictus Games Sydney chief executive Patrick Kidd, the event is all about celebrating the abilities of wounded veterans.

“It’s not about the person who’s best in their class at a particular activity. Medals are not what the driving force is,” he said.

“The Games are used as a platform for them to aim towards, to help stimulate their recovery and rehabilitation but also to help them get on and do something afterwards.”

Former soldier Ben Webb was part of the first n team that competed in London and describes his involvement as life changing.

Mr Webb, 35, joined the army straight after high school in 2001 but during his 12 years of service developed chronic pain syndrome as the result of several joint injuries.

He tried to hide the pain, a mistake that led to an emotional breakdown.

After receiving a medical discharge in 2013, he began volunteer work as a personal trainer with Solider On in Adelaide, where he heard about the London Invictus Games and soon found himself part of the n swim squad.

Mr Webb credits the Games as being a major turning point in his life as they shattered his feelings of loneliness and gave him the chance to make new networks, which ultimately led him to a job running the Veterans’ Centre at Dee Why RSL on Sydney’s northern beaches.

“I usually describe to people going to compete for the first time that Invictus is probably the most challenging and most exhausting experience they are going to have, but also the most rewarding,” he said.

While plenty of attention will be on Harry and his new bride Meghan when they attend the Sydney Games, organisers are determined that family and supporters of the veterans get their share of the spotlight.

Leesa Kwok will be one of them.

Her husband Jamie Tanner, 35, is competing at his third and final Invictus Games, with their children Danyan, 13, and Isobelle, 15 cheering him on in wheelchair tennis and rugby.

Mr Tanner developed several musculoskeletal injuries, PTSD, depression and adjustment disorder during his decade-long army career, which ended in 2011.

Ms Kwok says Invictus plays an invaluable role in recognising the “good, the bad and really ugly” the families of veterans go through while they are on the rehabilitation journey.

“Invictus is the one event that really honours and recognises that the recovery and rehabilitation of the wounded and ill serviceman or woman is not an individual journey, it’s a journey that the whole family has to traverse,” she said.

For her family, their greatest joy is the fact that Mr Tanner has gone from not being able to leave the house to competing at his third Games and qualifying for ‘s wheelchair tennis circuit.

“It would be awesome if he walks away with a medal but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter because what Invictus did was bring this man out for us,” she said.

“We don’t need a medal for that, and he doesn’t need a medal. We’ve got something a hell of a lot better.”

The New York Times is reporting that Jared Kushner has been paying virtually no tax.Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, likely paid little or no federal income taxes between 2009 and 2016, the New York Times is reporting.

Citing confidential financial documents the Times says were created with Kushner’s co-operation as part of a review of his finances by an institution that was considering lending him money.

The Times said that Kushner’s tax bills reflected the use of a tax benefit known as depreciation that lets real estate investors deduct part of the cost of their properties from their taxable income.

The Times report said that nothing in the documents reviewed “suggests Mr Kushner or his company broke the law”.

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell, told Reuters on Saturday that he would not respond to the newspaper’s assumptions, which he said were “taken from incomplete documents obtained in violation of the law and standard business confidentiality agreements”.

“Always following the advice of numerous attorneys and accountants, Mr Kushner properly filed and paid all taxes due under the law and regulations,” he said.

The records reviewed by The New York Times did not expressly state how much Kushner paid in taxes, but included estimates for how much he owed called “income taxes payable” — and how much Kushner paid in expectation of forecasted taxes known as “prepaid taxes”.

The paper said that for most of the years covered, both were listed as zero, but in 2013 Kushner reported income taxes payable of $US1.1 million ($A1.5 million).

Kushner Cos said previously it had more than $US2.5 billion ($A3.5 billion) in transactions 2017 and has 12 million square feet under development in New York and New Jersey.

Documents released by the White House in June showed Kushner held assets worth at least $US181 million ($A254 million), the Associated Press reported. The disclosures also show that Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, received at least $US82 million ($A115 million) in outside income in 2017.

A bumper crowd at The Everest has vindicated NSW racing chiefs following a controversial week.Sydney’s racing chiefs have claimed a points victory after a bumper crowd on Everest Day at Randwick closed a week of controversy for ‘s richest, and now most controversial, horse race.

After more than 300,000 people signed a petition during the week opposing The Everest’s Opera House barrier draw lightshow and many critics dismissed the race, a crowd of 40,578 punters and partygoers ignored the lingering rain to squeeze into Randwick racecourse on Saturday.

It well outstripped last year’s crowd of 33,000 and vindicated NSW racing authorities who were forced to close the Randwick gates before Redzel won his second Everest in succession.

Redzel received a huge ovation as he led the 1200m sprint most of the way to claim the $6 million purse by a length and a quarter from Trapeze Artist, with Osborne Bulls third.

“It’s great for Sydney racing to make a stand like this and be such a significant event in this city,” n Turf Club chief executive Jamie Barkley said.

“And for racing in , it’s a major achievement.”

And the biggest Randwick crowd since its 2013 redevelopment proved any publicity is good publicity after The Everest drama achieved saturation coverage, mostly negative.

Mr Barkley said the backlash against the barrier draw being beamed onto the Opera House sails was not a factor.

“It had no impact on the racing enthusiasts,” he said.

“Ticket sales were consistently above where they were last year.”

He said 78 per cent of tickets were sold to the under 35s, the target audience of Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys, the mastermind behind the bold creation of the $13 million sprint last year.

Mr V’landys unashamedly declares he wants The Everest to “disrupt” racing in and welcomed the partygoers to their first race meeting.

“I’m just very thrilled we again attracted the under 35 audience. This race is for the new generation to make their own and they’re doing that,” Mr V’landys said.

But for pure racing, it couldn’t disrupt Melbourne’s dominance at this time of year, with four Group One races and a Cups qualifier at Caulfield on Saturday.

The Autumn Sun confirmed its status as n racing’s next big thing with a dominant win in the Caulfield Guineas while Irish import Yucatan moved in betting for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups with a clear win in the Herbert Power Stakes.

And while the Everest strives for global recognition and welcomed its first overseas runner in US Navy Flag, Yucutan was one of around a dozen international horses at Caulfield.

But with a crowd of 22,000 at Caulfield, The Everest wins that contest.