Cowboy Scott set for Raiders in NRL: Green

North Queensland veteran Matt Scott is set to overcome a nasty leg infection in time to help repel the NRL’s biggest forward pack in the Cowboys’ Saturday season opener against Canberra.

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Scott spent Tuesday night in hospital after a boil on his leg became infected and missed training twice this week, but came through Friday’s session unscathed, if a little groggy.

Coach Paul Green rates him as a better than 50-50 chance of playing.

But with props Ben Hannant and James Tamou no longer at the club, and the Raiders’ first-choice pack tipping the scales at a whopping 657kg this season, Green admits they really can’t afford to be without him.

“They’re a huge pack and they play a pretty physical style of game, too. He’s pretty important for us,” he said.

“He was certainly a bit flat, still probably feeling the effects a little bit, so we’ll just make sure he pulls up alright.

“He’s a pretty tough sort of guy – he likes playing. That probably persuades me to be (optimistic).”

However, the Cowboys are likely to be without Antonio Winterstein, after spraining his ankle in a trial match last month and not yet fully recovering.

Javid Bowen is in line to replace him on the left wing – not Newcastle-bound teenager Kalyn Ponga – because Green believes his size and experience will match up well against Canberra’s explosive right-edge combination of Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana.

“That’s their strongest side so we need to be physical down that side of the field. They’ll test you – they test everyone,” he said.

However, Green sees an opportunity on the other side of 1300SMILES Stadium for the Cowboys.

Raiders captain Jarrod Croker (knee) will miss the start of the season, while Edrick Lee is at Cronulla, meaning they’ll field a new left-side pairing – and Green senses they’ll be vulnerable.

Back-rower Elliot Whitehead has been named out of position at left centre and youngster Nick Cotric will debut on the wing.

“It’s a big night for him. It’s always good when you see guys make their debut and they’ve got big raps on him,” Green said.

“(But) we’ll probably put that edge under a bit of pressure.”

The match is the first of six at home for the Cowboys across the first nine rounds.

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Canberra won 15 of their first 18 matches against the Cowboys, but have won just five of the past 18, including just three of 11 since 2011

* North Queensland had a near-perfect record at home in 2016, winning 12 of 13 matches including the first nine straight

* Canberra struggled on the road in the first half of last season, winning just two of the opening seven matches away from home

Trump praises Australian conservative author Nick Adams

Australian author and conservative activist Nick Adams has received perhaps the ultimate endorsement – a glowing tweet from US President Donald Trump.

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Australia’s strict merit-based immigration policies also received a thumbs up from Trump in the same early morning tweet.

“Nick Adams new book, Green Card Warrior, is a must read,” Trump told his 25.8 million Twitter followers on Friday.

“The merit-based system is the way to go. Canada, Australia!”

Nick Adams new book, Green Card Warrior, is a must read. The merit-based system is the way to go. Canada, Australia! @foxandfriends

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2017

Trump sent out the tweet after Adams was interviewed on Fox & Friends on Friday, the Trump friendly US morning TV show on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News cable network.

Trump is known to be a regular viewer of Fox & Friends.

Adams has become a regular guest on US talk shows and cable news programs and argues immigrants to the US must speak English.

Adams’ book recounts his attempt to attain a green card to work in the US and, according to his publisher’s website, is set “against the larger story of the broken legal immigration system, and unfairness of illegal immigration in America today”.

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Adams says he spent four years and nearly $US50,000 to get the green card.

Despite his Australian upbringing, he is a voracious supporter of the US.

“Every single day that I wake up here in the United States I thank God because this is just such a special country,” Adams said on Fox & Friends.

“My life would be totally different and what makes America special is the fact that it is not just a country.

“It’s an idea.

“It’s an ideal and there has to be a cultural buy-in from those who decide to make America home.

“They can’t just come here and milk us.

“They have got to love the place and they have to become an American.”

Adams describes himself on his website as a survivor of childhood cancer who earned undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Sydney and, at the age of 21, was publicly elected the youngest deputy mayor in Australian history.

In the US he created The Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness (FLAG), an organisation dedicated to promoting American exceptionalism and combating anti-Americanism worldwide.

Iron Maiden applauded for tout crackdown

Rock giants Iron Maiden have been commended by an MP over their efforts to clamp down on online ticket touts.

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The British band introduced a number of measures following their UK tour in 2011 when more than 6000 tickets appeared at inflated prices on secondary platforms.

Ahead of their The Book Of Souls tour, which starts in May, the rock group successfully lobbied secondary platforms to de-list tickets for the tour leading to a 95 per cent drop in online touting for their gigs.

Sites including Get Me In and Seatwave agreed not to resell Iron Maiden tickets. However Viagogo, who last month was criticised for profiting from a cancer charity concert, listed 207 tickets to the band’s UK tour after they initially went on sale last year.

Of those 207 tickets, most were identified as bogus while the remainder have been cancelled , the band’s team said.

The east London-formed band also introduced a paperless ticketing policy and require the purchaser’s credit card and ID on entry to a concert.

Iron Maiden were praised for their efforts by Conservative MP Nigel Adams who sits on the Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee and chairs the All-Parliamentary Group on Music.

“Iron Maiden and their management should be commended for their innovative approach to tackling touts,” he said.

“For too long, genuine fans have been fleeced by professional, well organised and greedy large-scale touts who use secondary ticketing sites to profiteer.”

Iron Maiden’s manager, Rod Smallwood, said they were “delighted” the measures had deterred touts and counterfeiters.

Defensive tweaks give Warriors new hope

Simon Mannering has rolled into south Auckland to report for Warriors pre-season training 13 times since 2005.

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As such the Nelson native knows fairly well how one shuttle run can blur into the next.

But the 30-year-old can sense something a bit different in the air as a new NRL season dawns under Stephen Kearney, the club’s fifth coach since 2011.

It’s nothing too drastic, but it’s enough to suggest the club is closer to their 2011 grand final performance than any of the pedestrian campaigns that followed.

“Little changes, not a massive revolution, but little tiny changes,” Mannering said.

“Defence isn’t re-inventing the wheel, it’s your desire and working bloody hard.”

Yet it might as well be for the Warriors, who conceded more than four tries a game on average in 2016 and lost their last four games to slump to 10th.

Only two sides – the Tigers and this year’s round-one opponents Newcastle – managed to give up more four-pointers over the same period.

In response Kearney has personally taken over as defence coach and implemented a new structure, which paid dividends in last fortnight’s 26-6 trial win over the Titans.

But on the flipside, the Auckland boys had earlier flopped at home in the Nines and threw away an 18-point lead to lose to the Storm on the Sunshine Coast.

“Stephen’s obviously come from a strong defensive background at Melbourne and Brisbane (but) I’m sure the majority of the teams are concentrating on defence,” Mannering said.

“Games aren’t won on how many points you score, it’s how many you stop.

“We’re seeing improvements through the trials and that’s all you want.”

Mannering will line up at lock against Newcastle on Sunday, with fellow ex-captain Ryan Hoffman and bruiser Bunty Afoa in the second row.

And despite the Hunter-based side’s horrific 2016 form, winning one and drawing one of 24 games in one of the worst NRL seasons in history, the Warriors vice-captain is on red alert.

He said each side would have something to prove on day one, including Nathan Brown’s youthful and already-dismissed Knights.

“It’s a new slate for everyone so you could say the same about us – everyone’s top of the table,” Mannering said.

“You don’t buy into any of that, we’re just excited to be playing at home.”

A win at Mount Smart Stadium will give the Warriors their first round-one NRL victory since 2009.

STATS THAT MATTER:

– The Warriors have won 10 of their 11 last home games against the Knights, scoring 24 points or more on seven of those occasions.

– The Warriors have failed to make the NRL finals on five consecutive seasons, having last made the eight in 2011 when going on to lose the grand final.

– Newcastle won just one NRL game in 2016, the first side to slump so slow since the Gold Coast Seagulls in 1993.

(SOURCE: FOX SPORTS LAB)

‘Sadistic’ treatment of models in Paris casts new shadow over fashion

The alleged ‘sadistic’ mistreatment of scores of models who were forced to wait in a dark, cramped staircase at a Paris fashion week casting has sparked fresh criticism of how the industry functions.

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With fashion already under intense scrutiny over under-age and overly thin models, the case made headlines around the world after US casting director James Scully broke ranks to denounce two rivals who he claimed were “serial abusers”.

The furore has also highlighted how vulnerable even relatively top level models can be at “cattle call” castings for the elite catwalk shows in Paris, New York and Milan.

At least 150 models were forced to wait for three hours or more in a hot and airless staircase for the Balenciaga show casting on Sunday, said Scully, who claimed the agents shut the door and turned off the lights when they went to eat.

The label, one of the most influential on the Paris catwalk, sacked the casting agency on Tuesday hours after Scully took to Instagram to protest about the “sadistic and cruel” treatment of the women.

But Maida Gregori Boina, the casting director involved — a major backstage figure on the Paris scene — hit back Friday, blaming Balenciaga and denying the allegations as “inaccurate and libellous”.

“We provided the most comfortable accommodations allowable based on the facilities provided,” she said in a statement.

Boina denied that she had turned off the lights or locked the door on the waiting models, blaming an electricity cut late on Sunday at Balenciaga’s Paris headquarters.

Models who were left in the dark told AFP that girls had been forced to wait in the stairway over the course of the casting, with the only toilet locked.

READ THESE STORIES TOO’Things have to change’

“It was the worst ever casting I had,” said former Gucci model Anna Vivchar, 19, who lost her place when she had to go to the toilet. “Everyone was nervous and hot.

“I am very grateful Balenciaga did what they did. They also apologised and sent us flowers.”

Fellow Ukrainian Elizabeth Pentsarska, 17, who has walked for Chanel, said with models rushing between up to 13 castings a day “normally you wait only maybe half an hour”. 

In a world where a code of silence often rules, and where models can be too afraid of losing work to speak up, insiders say the swift sacking of such a high-profile figure has sent tremors through the industry.

Isabelle Saint-Felix of Synam, the French model agency union, said the dismissal was a deterrent to those who would “abuse their power” over models.

“It is a warning to others and it could be an opportunity to rectify the situation. We have been warning for four or five years about the deteriorating situation.

“Things have to change. Sometimes we let things go too far before we open our eyes to what is going on,” she said.

Synam had warned the French Couture Federation for years about “models being disrespected, worsening conditions and more and more demands,” she said.

‘Concerns trivialised’

Sara Ziff, a former top model who heads the New York-based Model Alliance, said the problem runs deep.

“The industry is completely incapable of regulating itself. It is a little bit sad that we are reduced to naming and shaming. Really, we should have some standards in our industry.”

Scully, who raised the alarm over the Balenciaga casting, sits on the board of the Alliance, which campaigned for child labour laws to be applied to underage models in New York.

He said the industry had been “hijacked by a small group of stylists, casting directors and photographers who seem to dislike women”.

Ziff, who directed the acclaimed behind-the-scenes fashion documentary “Picture Me”, asked why the Balenciaga models were not better protected by their agents. “Aren’t they supposed to be looking out for their interests? I think that’s the real story.”

She said models’ concerns were often “trivialised and dismissed”.

“It can’t be that bad, people think. It is often not seen as work but more a privilege, but when you see what goes on behind the scenes there is nothing glamorous about it. 

Working conditions in France tend to be better than in the US, Ziff said. 

“In Paris, at least models are considered employees of their agents and their clients. In the US, we have almost no labour protection.”

Japan expresses condolences for WWII attack on Australia

At the memorial service to mark 75 years since Japan first attacked Western Australia, the country’s deputy mission has expressed his country’s remorse for the first time.

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Takashi Katae told the crowd at Broome’s Bedford Park that he was honoured to be the first Japanese representative to attend the memorial.

“On behalf of the government of Japan, I express my sincerest condolences for the countless lives lost within the maelstrom of war,” he said.

“Japan will never forget that it inflicted immeasurable damage and suffering on Broome and other parts of Australia.”

On the morning of March 3, 1942 a squadron of nine Japanese Zero fighter planes descended on the remote WA town in the state’s north west.

In their sights were the grounded allied aircraft at the Broome airport, which were virtually defenceless.

They were torn apart as the Japanese strafed the field destroying aircraft and killing allied soldiers including Australian, Dutch, American and British men.

Out in Roebuck Bay south of the small Broome township, a flotilla of 16 Dutch flying boats would not escape the Japanese.

On board the planes were scores of Dutch military officers and their families who had fled the Imperial Army’s march the night before as it spread through Java, then the Dutch East Indies.

Netherlands Ambassador Erica Schouten told the memorial that the attack had taken everyone by surprise.

“They thought they had reached safety here in Australia, tragically they had not,” she said.

The exact number of those that died is not known, but at least 88 are believed to have perished.

Among the number included an infant and other small children.

A Japanese peace crane sits next to the crosses that represent those who died in the attack on Broome 75 years ago.SBS

No time for shoes

As the Japanese attacked, 10-year-old Elly Koens was sitting on the wing of a plane trying to take her shoes off.

The now 85-year-old said her mother was yelling at her to just get in the water.

“I said, ‘no, I’ve got to take my shoes off mum’ and she said that doesn’t matter get in the water,” Ms Koens said.

“And I said, ‘no, my shoes have got to come off’ and, of course, my mother was as anxious as could be.”

Her plane was hit again by the Japanese and she slid into the water.

Other children were not so lucky. One boy was standing next to Ms Koen’s brother on the other wing and was cut down by the Japanese bullets.

“There was no feeling then,” Ms Koens said.

“You did as you were told.”

Ms Koens said her Dutch naval officer father Simon Koens was hit by shrapnel and with her mother and brother they were forced to tread water for hours waiting to be rescued.

“So my mum had to keep her eye on my father, my brother and myself,” she said.

“And mum was the one who gave us orders when we had to dive underneath the burning oil (on the surface) and come up on the other end of the flames.”

Johannes Muller’s downed Dakota at Carnot Bay, north of Broome.SBS

Against the odds

Also at Friday’s memorial was 78-year-old Sidney Muller whose father Johannes Muller survived after his plane was shot down by the Japanese.

Mr Muller was a radio operator with the Dutch KNILM airline and was on board a Dakota DC-3 fleeing Indonesia with civilians on board.

After their plane crash landed at Carnot Bay north of Broome, Mr Muller’s father watched as the Japanese came around again and strafed the plane once more.

A mother and her infant son did not survive the strafing.

Mr Muller said his father would have felt her death personally.

He said his father had put himself and his mother on a plane evacuating Schiphol, Amsterdam two years earlier as the Germans advanced so he would have been heartbroken to see a similar attempt to reach safety fail.

“I feel I understand my father more as a result of being out here,” Mr Muller said.

“The overriding thing is the compassion he must have felt at that poignant moment with the mother and child on the plane having done the same thing two years earlier.

“That must have been quite a shock for him.”

But the survivors’ ordeal was not over. With little water or food, they were stranded in an unforgiving environment.

Mr Muller and another crewmember were sent into the remote interior to try to find help.

They would be saved by a group of Aboriginal people and, ironically, taken to a former German mission.

But Mr Muller was never aware of his father’s harrowing experience until only a year ago after he began researching his family’s history.

His father and mother had divorced soon after the war.

“He’s a 31-year-old man at the time, to be put through this kind of trial, in these kinds of conditions, you can’t have anything but admiration.”

 

FBI arrests ex-journalist over threats to US Jewish centres

The Justice Department said Juan Thompson, 31, was thought to be behind at least eight of more than 100 threats made in recent weeks to Jewish schools, community centers and other institutions — incidents that have stirred fears of a rise in anti-Semitism.

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The agency said the threats were made as part of Thompson’s efforts to harass an unnamed former girlfriend. The arrest was made in St Louis, Missouri.

“We have charged Juan Thompson with allegedly stalking a former romantic interest by, among other things, making bomb threats in her name to Jewish Community Centers and to the Anti-Defamation League,” New York-based US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

“Threats of violence targeting people and places based on religion or race — whatever the motivation –- are unacceptable, un-American and criminal.”

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Thompson is an African-American journalist who worked for The Intercept, a respected investigative journalism website, between 2014 and 2016.

He was fired in January 2016 for fabricating sources and quotes, The Intercept said in a statement.

The Justice Department said in its statement that he sent emailed threats to the Jewish institutions in his ex-girlfriend’s name. He also made some in his own name, but as ploys to allege that she was trying to frame him for the crime.

Thompson was charged with one count of cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The Anti-Defamation League, one of the Jewish institutions Thompson targeted, said it had been monitoring Thompson’s online activities, which it said had been strongly critical of white people.

“We are relieved and gratified that the FBI has made an arrest in these cases,” said ADL chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement.

“We look forward to the quick resolution of the remaining open cases.”

Jewish cemeteries attacked

Officials said investigations remain open into the other threats against Jewish schools, community centers and other institutions, as well as vandalism of three Jewish cemeteries.

Many of the scores of bomb threats were phoned in. Jewish community officials say those calls appeared to use electronic devices to mask the voice and location of the caller or callers.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which investigates hate crimes, is leading the probe, officials said. But the statement on Thompson’s arrest said his prosecution also involves the department’s counterterrorism and general crimes units.

While the bomb threats appear to have halted in recent days, about a dozen headstones were toppled or defaced in a Jewish cemetery in Rochester, New York.

It was the third Jewish cemetery in two weeks to be vandalized. More than 200 headstones were overturned or broken in cemeteries in St Louis and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Meredith Dragon, chief executive of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, said local police were not yet ready to determine whether what happened there was an act of petty vandalism or a targeted hate crime.

As no local Jewish community centers or schools were targeted in the recent spate of telephone threats, it “leads me to believe this has been local,” she said.

Trump comments questioned

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump condemned the threats and vandalism in a speech before Congress, saying such acts “remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

But earlier Tuesday, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Trump suggested to a group of state prosecutors that some of the threats and acts of vandalism could be “the reverse,” suggesting they were aimed not at Jews but at making others look bad politically.

Shapiro told NPR radio Thursday that such a mixed message from the president “stokes doubt” in the public about what is going on.

“I don’t know what the president meant,” he said. “But here’s what I know, is that presidents must speak with moral clarity, not through mixed messages…. And this kind of wishy-washy speech leaves too much open to interpretation by the wrong people.”

Big queues in Japan for Nintendo Switch

People in Tokyo have been queuing up outside stores since early Friday to buy Nintendo’s new gaming console Switch.

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Nintendo, whose online store crashed on the first day of Switch pre-orders in January due to overwhelming site traffic, has put out two million units for sale in Japan, Australia, the United States, Canada and Europe.

On Friday, hundreds of people gathered outside stores in Tokyo to buy the new console, which went out of stock in some shops shortly after sales began, according to media reports.

Switch is Nintendo’s first gaming module since the 2012 launch of Wii U, which sold around 14 million units.

Owing to excitement surrounding the launch of Switch, Nintendo’s shares registered a 3.65 per cent rise by the end of Friday’s trading session at the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

However, initial skepticism after the product’s Japan price – 29,980 yen ($A349) – and specifications were announced on January. 13, had led to a heavy fall in shares of the Kyoto-based firm.

Switch is both a home console – when connected to a television set through a dock – and a portable device.

With this hybrid concept, users can start playing a game on their television sets and continue playing it even after disconnecting it from the dock.

Apart from the console, Nintendo also released 20 videogames, including the eagerly-awaited “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Fire”.

Following the roaring success of its smartphone game “Pokemon GO” and the launch of “Super Mario Run” in December, Nintendo now hopes to revitalise its gaming console business in what is a highly competitive market.

Where the states stand on abuse redress

THE STATE OF PLAY WITH THE PLANNED COMMONWEALTH REDRESS SCHEME

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

* Doesn’t support it

* Happy to talk if Commonwealth will underwrite national scheme

* Already provides ex-gratia compensation scheme for people abused as children in state care

NSW

* Nationally administered scheme best option

* Working with national redress taskforce on scheme design

VICTORIA

* No decision – wants details on how scheme will work

* National scheme is preferred option

* But well advanced on a state scheme

QUEENSLAND

* Supports a single national redress scheme

* Seeking more detail and assurance it’s in best interests of Qld victims

* Previously operated a state redress scheme

TASMANIA

* No decision made

* Continuing talks with the Commonwealth and other states and territories to consider the Commonwealth redress scheme

* Previously operated a state redress scheme

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

* Wants all details before makes a decision

* Says states haven’t been given key details, so decision will be matter for whoever wins March 11 election

* Previously operated two state-based redress schemes at total cost of $150m

NT

* Says working co-operatively with the Commonwealth to determine details of their scheme

* Notes there could be significant budgetary implications for NT

* Are also technical issues since NT was administered by the Commonwealth before self-government in 1978

* Federal government can force it to participate

ACT

* Actively considering opting in

* Welcomes taskforce efforts to involve all jurisdictions and institutions in scheme design and development, to ensure as many responsible institutions as possible are able to opt in

* Federal government can force it to participate.

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‘Apprentice’ host Arnold Schwarzenegger: I won’t be back

The 69-year-old actor – famous for his catchphrase “I’ll be back” – had earlier told entertainment magazine Empire that he had no plans to return to the show after his debut season, and would decline even if asked by creator Mark Burnett.

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“I loved every second of working with NBC and Mark Burnett. Everyone – from the celebrities to the crew to the marketing department – was a straight 10, and I would absolutely work with all of them again on a show that doesn’t have this baggage,” he confirmed in a statement circulated to US media.

Schwarzenegger’s representatives in Los Angeles did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

“With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or as a sponsor or in any other way support the show,” Schwarzenegger had told Empire earlier Friday. 

“It’s a very divisive period now and I think this show got caught up in all that division.”

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He added that he had universally positive feedback on his own performance but people had told him they couldn’t watch after seeing Trump’s name in the credits as executive producer. 

“No one really knew that this was going to happen and I think that everyone was caught off guard… When people found out that Trump was still involved as executive producer and was still receiving money from the show, then half the people (started) boycotting it.”

Trump, the original host from 2008-14, and Schwarzenegger sparred on Twitter after it was revealed that ratings for the reality business show had dipped.

“Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger did a really bad job as Governor of California and even worse on the Apprentice…but at least he tried hard,” Trump tweeted on February 3.

“The ratings went right down the tubes,” the president had said a day earlier at an annual prayer breakfast of religious leaders, which Burnett also attended. 

“Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings.”

Schwarzenegger hit back with a link to a story about his release of his tax returns during his campaign to be re-elected as governor of California in 2006.

He also posted a video in which he suggested he and his interlocutor should switch jobs “so people can finally sleep comfortably again.” 

With the audience slumping below four million after the show’s debut in January, Schwarzenegger’s resignation may end up being moot, as NBC has not yet picked up a second season.