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Tiger’s wife hires Kidman’s divorce lawyer: report

Elin Nordegren … divorce would be “lawyers’ dream”.Elin Nordegren is bringing in the big guns, reportedly hiring Nicole Kidman’s divorce lawyer to preside over the disintegration of her marriage to Tiger Woods.
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The 29-year-old mother of two has enlisted veteran legal eagle Sorrell Trope, 82, London’s The Times reports.

Los Angeles-based Trope is experienced with high-profile cases. He’s represented Nicole Kidman, Britney Spears and Cary Grant.

He also has Frank McCourt, the owner of the LA Dodgers baseball team, on his books, charging $239,000 for a month’s work in November, the Los Angeles Times reported.

But Ms Nordegren’s rumoured desire to file for divorce in California – where property laws could gift her a better settlement than in their home state of Florida – may not materialise, according to The Times.

Californian law requires her or Woods to have lived in the state for six months before any petition is filed.

“Particularly with children involved, who I believe have lived in Florida, you can’t get around that easily,” Orlando-based divorce lawyer, John Wallace, told the paper.

“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to have done a good job drawing up a prenup.

“That’s where she’s going to have difficulty. You can’t deal with children’s issues in a prenup….This is the kind of divorce that’s a lawyer’s dream.

“You could have lawyers fighting over several different issues in different states.”

Meantime, bookmakers continue to have a field day with the scandal.

British bookmaker William Hill is taking bets on just how much Ms Nordegren will get if she decides to divorce the world’s No. 1 golfer, who is taking an indefinite break from the sport after admitting to infidelities.

As the scandal widens, gamblers can get 25-1 odds Ms Nordegren will receive more than half a billion dollars in a divorce settlement. The odds drop to 6-4 for a settlement under $100 million. William Hill is offering only 1-2 odds that she would get between $100 million and $500 million.

At odds of 25-1, people who bet $1 and win will get $25 plus the $1 stake back. At 6-4 odds, a $4 bet will get $10 in return.

William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said the company had been taking bets on whether or not the couple would get divorced at all, but took the market down because it was too one-sided with people betting on divorce. William Hill also had bets on how many women would come forward as alleged mistresses, but Mr Adams said that was too difficult to verify.

None of the bets, though, have been for much money.

“People are putting on small bets, probably so they can have a giggle in the pub and show their mate a betting slip,” Mr Adams said.

“It’s not vast sums of money.”

Two other British bookmakers, Ladbrokes and Coral, are only taking bets on Woods as a golfer, saying they wanted to stay away from his personal problems.

“We did think about it, but we tend not to go down there,” Coral spokesman Gary Burton said.

Ladbrokes spokesman Nick Weinberg said his company is more concerned about Woods’ sporting achievements.

“We usually stay away from the less tasteful elements, so we’ve given that one a miss,” Mr Weinberg said.

Ladbrokes is only taking bets on whether or not Woods, with 14 major titles, will break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 — and the odds on that are getting longer.

“He’s 2-5 to break the record, 23-1 not to,” Mr Weinberg said.

“We were as short as 1-20.”

Coral is taking bets on whether Woods will play at the Masters, the first major of the year, in April.

Two weeks ago, they were giving 9-2 odds that he would miss the tournament at Augusta. That’s been cut to 11-10 because of the mounting scandal.

Woods is also 4-6 to play at the Masters, and 2-9 to break Nicklaus’ major record.

As for Woods ever playing golf again, Coral has cut the odds from 33-1 to 16-1.

William Hill is offering the most bets, going even further than next season by giving 6-1 odds that Woods will win the Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

He is also 4-6 to play at this year’s Masters and 11-8 to win a major in 2010.

“In terms of golf, we think that it won’t affect him massively,” Mr Adams said.

“He’s such a focused bloke, I think he can separate the two.

“If anything, he might come back more focused.”

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Court overturns father’s triple-murder conviction

Died in the dam…Jai, Bailey and Tyler Farquharson, who drowned on Father’s Day, in 2005, near Winchelsea, Victoria.A FATHER jailed for life with no minimum term for the alleged murders of his three sons has been granted a retrial, with Victoria’s highest court finding that a miscarriage of justice had occurred.
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Robert Donald William Farquharson, 40, will face a new trial next year after the Court of Appeal ruled that a Supreme Court judge, Philip Cummins, and the prosecution made serious mistakes about the evidence and reputation of a star witness.

But the judges said ”it was open to a jury acting reasonably to be satisfied of guilt” beyond reasonable doubt.

Mr Farquharson was convicted of murdering his sons Jai, 10, Tyler, 7, and Bailey, 2, by driving them into a Winchelsea dam on Father’s Day in 2005.

The prosecution alleged that the boys’ deaths were a deliberate act of revenge by Mr Farquharson against his former wife, Cindy Gambino, over the break-up of their marriage.

Mr Farquharson denied killing his sons. He said he had suffered a coughing fit and blacked out, resulting in his car veering off the road and into the dam.

In a case that Victoria’s Chief Justice, Marilyn Warren, described as containing issues that were ”complex, emotive and readily capable of being misunderstood”, the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial.

The case was largely circumstantial and key evidence came from a friend of the accused, Greg King, about threats Mr Farquharson had allegedly made at a Winchelsea fish and chip shop before his children died.

Mr King changed his story several times – each time changing the level of threats his friend had allegedly made – but eventually told police that Mr Farquharson had told him that he was ”going to pay her [Cindy] back big time” and kill his children.

”Accident involving a dam where I survive and the kids don’t,” Mr Farquharson is alleged to have said. ”Something like Father’s Day so everybody would remember.”

Police later got Mr King to wear a wire. The prosecution alleged that during these secretly taped conversations Mr Farquharson engaged in ”sustained manipulation”, trying to prevent Mr King from telling the police about his alleged threats. The jury was told it was evidence pointing to Mr Farquharson’s guilty conscience.

Chief Justice Warren, Justices Geoffrey Nettle and Robert Redlich said it was essential for Justice Cummins to direct the jury that they had to be satisfied of the terms of the fish and chip shop conversation before they could infer Mr Farquharson was conscious of his alleged guilt.

The appeal judges found the prosecution had wrongfully failed to disclose that Mr King had been charged with recklessly causing injury and that police planned to provide a statement in his favour during his case.

Asked outside court if he had expected the dramatic result, Mr Farquharson’s lawyer, Peter Morrissey, SC, smiled and said ”no”.

Cindy Gambino’s parents said they were not surprised. ”It is just out of our hands, it is the judges’ decision,” Bob Gambino said.

The success of the appeal means Mr Farquharson will not have to pay $225,000 awarded in May to Mrs Gambino for pain and suffering.

with Kate Hagan

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Hayne sticks with NRL but warns of player drain

JARRYD HAYNE finally re-signed with Parramatta yesterday, injecting some good news into a week that has been otherwise full of bad headlines for rugby league.However, his signature came with a warning for those running the game: Do something to bring more money into it or the exit of star players to other codes is just going to continue – and might even include him in the future.There is no chance of that day coming before the end of the 2013 season, since that is how long Hayne has recommitted himself to the Eels on a deal worth $500,000 annually, but after that, who knows? The Eels superstar will still only be 25 then and he might have already achieved enough in rugby league to seriously think about what it would be like to play something else – particularly if star players keep leaving the game.”I’m too young [now], but when it comes up next time it’s definitely going to be an option,” Hayne said. “It would be sad to go, but it seems like the NRL’s just letting them go. It would be good to see the NRL step in, but the way they see it, one player doesn’t hold a competition together. But when you’re losing such quality players in consecutive years, the question’s got to be asked: How many are we going to let go?”Hayne and his manager, Wayne Beavis, met with NRL chief executive David Gallop last week. Beavis said Hayne had wanted to find out first-hand what the league planned to do about about stopping the flow of players such as Mark Gasnier, Sonny Bill Williams and Craig Gower to rugby union, and Karmichael Hunt to AFL. There had recently been speculation that the new Greater Western Sydney AFL franchise would offer Hayne a fortune to try to snare him.”Jarryd made his feelings quite clear,” Beavis said yesterday. “Not just on his own behalf, but for players generally, that the league needed to be more proactive and get more money into the game because the outside temptations grow and these are all marquee players that are highly sought after by after codes. You have to be careful we don’t keep losing marquee players to other codes.”Hayne said it was important for him, as a challenge, that he keep matching himself against the best possible players in league. He said he was concerned the game might next lose Australian halfback Johnathan Thurston, who has talked about possibly going to union when his contract with North Queensland runs out at the end of next season.”It would be very sad to see him leave the game because players like me, you want to play against the best,” Hayne said. “You don’t want to see them go to other codes – you know, Sonny Bill, Mark Gasnier and Craig Gower and that. It’s a bit disappointing, them going and the NRL not doing anything about it.”You’d hate to see it in another four years, other quality players have left the game and then it hits them [the NRL] in the head [and they say] ‘oh, hang on a minute, let’s do something now’, instead of jumping on it straight away and knocking it on the head. When you look at it, I know ‘Greggie’ [Melbourne star Greg Inglis] re-signed last year, but when he comes up for contract there’s going to be massive questions about him and a lot of other players.”Asked for his reaction to Hayne’s words, Gallop said last night: “I explained to Jarryd we would love for players to be earning higher salaries, but the pie is only so big and there are a lot of mouths to feed, including clubs, players and junior-development programs. I stressed [to Hayne] that we were not in a position to change the salary-cap rules for any player and I think he appreciated that.”Eels chief executive Paul Osborne reacted to Hayne’s re-signing by saying it would have been “diabolical” for the game had it lost him.Hayne’s re-signing was announced on-stage at Rouse Hill Town Centre shops, in Sydney’s north-west, as the Eels continued their club-membership drive by producing not only Hayne but a host of other stars – including Nathan Hindmarsh and Daniel Mortimer – to meet the fans.Hayne said he wanted to realise his two biggest goals – winning a State of Origin series with NSW and a grand final with Parramatta.
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CIA pushes for air strikes in Pakistani city

WASHINGTON: Senior US officials are pushing to expand CIA drone strikes beyond Pakistan’s tribal region and into a major city in an attempt to pressure the Pakistani government to pursue Taliban leaders based in Quetta.The proposal has opened a contentious new front in the clandestine war. The prospect of Predator aircraft strikes in Quetta signals a new US resolve to decapitate the Taliban. But it also risks rupturing the United States’ relationship with Pakistan.The concern has created tension among Obama administration officials over whether unmanned aircraft strikes in a sprawling city of 850,000 are a realistic option. Proponents, including some military leaders, argue that attacking the Taliban in Quetta – or at least threatening to do so – is vital to the success of the revised war strategy President Barack Obama announced last week.”If we don’t do this – at least have a real discussion of it – Pakistan might not think we are serious,” said a senior US official involved in war planning.”What the Pakistanis have to do is tell the Taliban that there is too much pressure from the US. We can’t allow you to have sanctuary inside Pakistan anymore.”But others, including high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials, have been more sceptical of employing drone attacks in a place that Pakistanis see as part of their country’s core. Indeed, Pakistani officials have warned that the fallout would be severe.”We are not a banana republic,” said a senior Pakistani official involved in discussions of security issues with the Obama administration. If the United States were to follow through, the official said, “this might be the end of the road.”The CIA in recent years has stepped up a campaign against Al-Qaida and the Taliban in Pakistan, much of it with drone strikes in the rural tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. The operations have been conducted with the consent of the government of President Asif Ali Zardari, who has been a reliable ally to America in his first fifteen months in office.Zardari, however, is facing mounting political woes, and the CIA airstrikes are highly unpopular among the Pakistani public, due to concerns over national sovereignty and civilian casualties. If drone attacks now confined to small villages were to be mounted in a sizable city, the death rate of innocent bystanders probably would increase.Obama has endorsed an expansion of CIA operations inside the country, approving the deployment of more spies and resources in a clandestine counterpart to the surge of 30,000 additional U.S. troops into Afghanistan.But the push to expand drone strikes underscores the limits of the Obama offensive. The administration has given itself 18 months to show evidence of a turnaround in Afghanistan. But progress in Pakistan depends almost entirely on drone strikes and prodding a sometimes reluctant ally, which provides much of the intelligence to conduct the strikes, to do more.U.S. and Pakistani officials stressed that the United States has stopped short of issuing an ultimatum to Pakistan.”It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to use heavy-handed tactics when you’ve got this kind of relationship,” said a U.S. counter-terrorism official who, like others, discussed the issue on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.Obama alluded to the effort to enlist more Pakistani help on the day his strategy was announced.”The most important thing we can do in Pakistan is to change their strategic orientation,” Obama said in a meeting with news columnists on December 1. The pursuit of Al-Qaida involves a range of activities, he said, “some of which I can’t discuss.”As Obama deliberated over the strategy for Afghanistan through the fall, administration officials held high-level meetings in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, consulting with Pakistan and pressing for it to do more.Among those involved were Gen. James L. Jones, Obama’s national security adviser, General Stanley A. McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, and Leon E. Panetta, director of the CIA.”We have applied enormous pressure,” the senior U.S. official said.Pakistan is not expected to hand over Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban leader and longtime ally of Osama bin Laden who fled Afghanistan when US forces invaded after the September 11, 2001, attacks. Omar is believed to have used Quetta as a base from which to orchestrate insurgent attacks in Afghanistan.But US officials said they have presented Pakistan with a list of Taliban lieutenants and argued that, with a US pullout from Afghanistan scheduled to begin in 18 months, the urgency of dismantling the so-called Quetta shura is greater than at any time in the eight-year-old war.The senior Pakistani official bridled at the suggestion that Pakistan has been reluctant to target militants in Quetta, saying US assertions about the city’s role as a sanctuary have been exaggerated.”We keep hearing that there is a shadow government in Quetta, but we have never been given actionable intelligence,” the Pakistani official said.Pakistan is prepared to pursue Taliban leaders, including Omar, even when the intelligence is imprecise, the official said.Pakistan has launched a series of military operations against Islamic militants over the past year. But those operations have been aimed primarily at Taliban factions accused of carrying out attacks in Pakistan, not the groups directing strikes on US forces across the border.The CIA has carried out dozens of Predator strikes in Pakistan’s tribal belt over the past two years, relying extensively on information provided by informant networks run by Pakistan’s spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence.The campaign is credited with killing at least 10 senior Al-Qaida operatives since the pace of the strikes was accelerated in August 2008 but have enraged many Pakistanis because of civilian casualties.The number of attacks has slowed in recent months. Possible causes include weather disruptions and difficulty locating targets as insurgents get better at eluding drones.Of 48 attacks carried out this year, only six have taken place since the end of September, according to data compiled by the Web site The Long War Journal. The latest occurred Friday, in which a senior Al-Qaida operations planner named Saleh al-Somali is believed to have been killed.The drone attacks have been confined to territories along Pakistan’s northwestern border, regions essentially self-governed by Pashtun tribes. The province of Baluchistan, however, has a distinct ethnic identity and its own separatist movement. It is one of Pakistan’s main provinces, and strikes against its main city, Quetta, probably would be seen as a violation of the nation’s sovereignty.A former senior CIA official said he and others were repeatedly rebuffed when proposing operations in Baluchistan or pushing Pakistan to target the Taliban in Quetta.”It wasn’t easy to talk about,” the official said. “The conversations didn’t last a long time.”Pakistan is working with the CIA to coax certain Taliban lieutenants in Omar’s fold to defect. U.S. officials said contacts have been handled primarily by the Saudi and Pakistani intelligence services. The results of the effort are unclear.The CIA’s main objective in Pakistan remains the hunt for bin Laden. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently said that it had been “years'” since any meaningful information had surfaced in that search.Los Angeles Times
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UK court issued warrant for Livni

JERUSALEM: Israel has lashed out at an arrest warrant issued by a British court for its former foreign minister Tzipi Livni over war crimes allegedly committed in Gaza this year.In a statement yesterday the Israeli foreign ministry called the warrant a ”cynical act” and urged Britain to act against the ”exploitation of the British legal system”.”The lack of determined and immediate action to correct this distortion harms the relations between the two countries,” the statement read. ”If Israeli leaders cannot visit Britain in a dignified manner, it will naturally be a real obstacle to Britain’s desire to have an active role in the peace process in the Middle East.”Ms Livni, a member of the war cabinet during Operation Cast Lead, was due to address a meeting in London on Sunday but cancelled her attendance in advance.The Westminster Magistrates Court in central London issued the warrant at the request of lawyers acting for some of the Palestinian victims of the fighting, but it was later dropped.The warrant is the first time an Israeli minister or former minister has faced arrest in Britain and is evidence of a growing effort to pursue war crimes allegations under ”universal jurisdiction”. Israel rejects these efforts as politically motivated, saying it acted in self-defence against Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza.Now the leader of the opposition party Kadima, Ms Livni played a central role in decisions made before and during the three-week Israeli offensive in Gaza. Palestinians say 1400 were killed, mostly civilians; Israel counted 1166 dead, most of them combatants.The British Foreign Office, clearly deeply embarrassed by the episode, said in a statement: ”The UK is determined to do all it can to promote peace in the Middle East and to be a strategic partner of Israel. To do this, Israel’s leaders need to be able to come to the UK for talks with the British Government. We are looking urgently at the implications of this case.”Ms Livni’s office said she had already decided not to come to Britain but lawyers seemed unaware of that when they approached the court last week. The judge refused to issue the warrant until he had been assured – erroneously – that Ms Livni was in fact in the country.In September, Westminster Magistrates Court was asked to issue a warrant for the arrest of Israel’s Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, under the 1988 Criminal Justice Act, which gives courts in England and Wales universal jurisdiction in war crimes cases.Mr Barak, who was attending a meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, escaped arrest after the Foreign Office told the court that he was a serving minister who would be meeting his British counterparts. The court ruled that he enjoyed immunity under the State Immunity Act 1978.Israeli sources say that ministers who wish to visit Britain have begun asking the Israeli embassy in London to arrange meetings with British officials. These offer legal protection against arrest. Ms Livni cannot enjoy any such immunity as she is no longer a minister.”The current situation has become intolerable, it is time that it change,” Israel’s ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, told army radio yesterday.”I am convinced that the British Government will understand that it is time to react and not content itself with declarations.”Guardian News & Media
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Iran says report it is working on nuclear trigger is Western invention

TEHRAN: Iran has dismissed a report that it is working on a key component of a nuclear bomb.”Some countries are angry that our people defend their nuclear rights,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said yesterday. When Western powers ”want to pressure us they craft such scenarios, which is unacceptable”.The British newspaper The Times said on Monday that it had obtained notes describing a four-year plan by Iran to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion. The memo heightened fears of Iran’s growing technical prowess.United Nations nuclear officials fear that although it has long been denied access to foreign technology because of sanctions, Tehran has still learnt how to make virtually every bolt and switch in a nuclear weapon.The assessment of International Atomic Energy Agency officials, revealed in internal documents, is shared by Western and Middle Eastern intelligence analysts and weapons experts.There is no way to establish the authenticity or original source of the memo obtained by the Times, which is being assessed by Western intelligence agencies and the UN nuclear watchdog. Even so, former intelligence officials and arms-control experts said that if it is a genuine Iranian Government document, it is a worrisome indication of a continuing clandestine effort to acquire nuclear weapons capability.The leaked document seemingly contained instructions from Mohsen Fakhirzadeh, the head of Iran’s research operation, ordering scientists to carry out experiments using uranium deuteride. The compound’s only use is to detonate a nuclear weapon. The document has been dated to 2007.UN inspectors have separately been presented with evidence that a second prominent scientist, Ferrydoon Abbasi, led a research team conducting parallel experiments on tritium – also a nuclear trigger – at Imam Hussein University in Tehran.The International Atomic Energy Agency has confronted Tehran with allegations about experiments with beryllium dating back to 2003.The evidence of Iran’s nuclear momentum emerged as the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, conceded on Monday that the White House had little to show for nearly a year of diplomatic engagement with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.”I don’t think anyone can doubt that our outreach has produced very little in terms of any kind of a positive response from the Iranians,” Mrs Clinton told reporters.She also labelled espionage charges against three Americans held in Iran as ”totally unfounded”. Iran announced on Monday that the three, who entered the country illegally from Iraq during a hiking trip in July, would be put on trial.Iran insists it opposes nuclear weapons, and points out the technologies that have raised suspicions in the West have peaceful uses. But Iranian officials do not conceal their pride in their ability to develop advanced technology in spite of UN sanctions.Agence France-Presse,The Washington Post
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Censorship claims force printing backdown

THE Government has bowed to pressure from disgruntled Opposition and minor party MPs and will relax the guidelines governing the content of the taxpayer-funded printed material they send to voters.Following a raft of complaints that the new guidelines were too heavy-handed and were censoring criticism of the Government, the Special Minister of State, Joe Ludwig, will today announce changes to eradicate what he called ”teething problems”.In September the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, slashed the combined printing and communications allowance for MPs from $100,000 to $75,000, and for senators from $16,667 to $12,500. The use of the allowance was also restricted. Any material considered by the Finance Department to be ”electioneering”, including how-to-vote cards, was banned. To stop MPs using printers and photocopiers in their electorate offices to circumvent the restrictions, there would be an annual cap of $35,000 on such consumables as toner, paper and printing cartridges.But the grumbling began immediately. Opposition MPs furnished examples of flyers that had been censored by the department because they contained the Hansard of speeches that MPs had given in Parliament in which they criticised the Government.The Coalition and minor parties joined forces in the Senate and threatened to use their number to disallow the regulations.Following advice from a multi-party committee, Senator Ludwig has agreed to remove the definition of ”electioneering” and replace it with the more specific ”party business”.He conceded the initial regulation ”operated unintentionally to limit free policy discourse”.Using the allowance for how-to-vote cards, fund-raising purposes and other specific business will still be prohibited.There will be other smaller changes to the guidelines of a bureaucratic nature, including one concerning the sending of Christmas cards.Senator Ludwig said the initial changes were never meant to stop criticism of the Government.”This is simple fine-tuning to the regulations. With any major reform there are bound to be teething problems,” he said.
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History in the making, slowly

THE cold sun struggles into the sky about 9am in Copenhagen and disappears at 3pm, a cameo performance. But what the city lacks in sunlight, its warm, gregarious citizens compensate for – they are quick to share a joke in their perfect English as they help us travel-dazed Aussies get around.I’m here as part of a trade union delegation representing 168 million workers in 154 countries, led by the ACTU president, Sharan Burrow.Our mission is to make sure any global agreement includes reference to workers by locking in decent labour standards and good quality jobs as climate action kicks in: “A just transition” in conference parlance.This is core business for unions. Every job in every workplace in every country rich or poor will be touched by the worldwide economic revolution to clean up the planet.There was broad support among most government delegations for the concept of a “just transition”, with a paragraph in the draft acknowledging its importance.This is good news. For Australia and other wealthy nations it means decent pay and rights at work for jobs in the emerging low-carbon industries. But it’s especially heartening for people in dirt-poor countries where labour standards are non-existent and climate action without safeguards potentially could grind them into worse poverty.The big question for developing countries will be financing. To cut emissions and create decent work standards with institutions to support them will require truckloads of money from developed nations.We heard 40,000 people have registered for the conference. Attendance will have to be rationed when the likes of Barack Obama turn up.The numbers suggest this history in the making. As with many such events, it doesn’t look much. Boring huddles of people mired in negotiation over a word here, a phrase there. You show me your target, I’ll show you mine.I arrived here depressed about Australia’s political meltdown over the ETS but I know I will come home restored by seeing so many good people determined to make something happen.There will be a deal within the next year and the world will take on a new shape.It’s the best chance we may ever have for a new Industrial Revolution to overcome the inequalities and environmental damage created by the last Industrial Revolution. We’re much smarter now, we have lessons to learn from.I hope we don’t blow it.Giulia Baggio is the ACTU’s climate change co-ordinator.
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Farmers can offer a partial remedy – at best

THE rich, dark soils of Australia’s farming heartland contain more carbon than every coal-fired power station in the country could pump out in a century.Tweaking the balance so the earth can soak up just a little more CO2, by changing the way crops are grown and by turning some cropland into pasture, could theoretically fulfil all of Australia’s greenhouse gas targets in one hit.Both the Government and the Opposition believe rural landscapes can play a big role in meeting emissions targets, provided the climate agreement being debated in Copenhagen changes existing rules so that biosequestration can be used as an offset for industrial carbon output.Unfortunately things are much more complicated than simply digging more organic fertiliser into the soil, and experts doubt whether ”green carbon” solutions can ever be more than a sideshow to more direct ways of cutting carbon emissions.”It could have a role in significantly reducing emissions in the short term, though its long term value is going to be limited,” said a leading CSIRO soil carbon expert, Dr Jeffrey Baldock. ”It’s not going to be a way of allowing the world to keep burning fossil fuels.”Soil carbon sequestration means getting more carbon-based life into the earth, in the form of plant fragments and the tiny organisms that break them down.The problem is that microbes break down plant matter and return it to the air at the same rate as it is buried in the soil.The CSIRO uses the analogy of a leaking bucket to explain the cycle, saying no matter how much water you put in, the same amount will leak out again.The hope of biosequestration lies in changing land management practices, so that soils have more plant matter and nutrients. This can be achieved by changing crop rotations, letting stubble decay into the ground after harvests, and topping up soil with organic material.The leaky bucket would be replaced with a bigger bucket; it would still leak at the same rate but it would hold more water at any one time.Some farmers are seeing dollar signs in the idea, because carbon credits could be created by changing the way a property was managed to soak up more carbon from the air. But with potential benefits come liabilities as well.The current international framework for measuring land use change and forestry means that losses in carbon sequestration through uncontrollable events such as bushfires are counted against any benefits.The National Farmers Federation sent a delegation to the Copenhagen talks to argue that farmers should have the right to opt in to emissions trading schemes but should not be punished if drought or fire ruins their sequestration plans.Another problem is the lack of a high carbon price needed as an incentive to change land management practices.
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Postal strike to hit delivery of presents

A CHRISTMAS mail strike by tens of thousands of postal workers will spread to bans on parcel sorting, disrupting present delivery.Already areas of Sydney have been hit by bans that have seen mail delivery delayed by several days.”There was some delay to some of the mail in NSW,” said an Australia Post spokesman, Alex Twomey, yesterday. He said extra staff were pulled in to clear a backlog over the weekend, but could not say how widespread delays would become this week.The national president of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, Ed Husic, said there would not be a nationwide stoppage, but a range of disruptions, including walk-outs, at different Australia Post sites.The union said up to 18,000 workers would take part. Yet Mr Twomey said 75 per cent of Australia Post staff would ignore the bans. Australia Post has told staff who plan to participate in partial work bans of 15 minutes they will lose a day’s pay.As the postal service tried to play down the impact of the strike during its busiest delivery season, it warned the public against sending mail without stamps.The union has said any Christmas card without a stamp deposited in a red Australia Post street box this week will be delivered, a move designed to dent Australia Post’s revenue.Mr Husic said Australia Post would have to revert to manual mail sorting to stop the ”free mail” getting through. ”You put all the mail in and it runs at high speed through a machine. The machine can’t check for stamps. Our people know postage-free days will work,” said Mr Husic.A Senate committee will report in February on the protracted court battle between the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union and Australia Post, after a resolution was passed at the ALP national conference in July.Australia Post said it has granted pay increases of 12 per cent to staff since 2007, and was offering a 4 per cent pay rise next year.
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Addict admits role in father’s death

HE first tried drugs in sixth grade and two years later he was smoking cannabis daily.As the habit grew, Jonathan Burton Lowe also began experimenting with speed, ecstasy and ice.By last year the 22-year-old ice addict had become a virtual stranger to his family, despite living in a granny flat on his parents’ property in Dural.But it took a catastrophic event in the young man’s life – the death of his father while trying to dispose of the bomb Lowe had made – for him to return to the family fold.Details of how Lowe’s drug addiction contributed to the death of Lionel Barry Lowe can be revealed following the acquittal last week of his co-accused, Ashley Glenn Wright.Lowe pleaded guilty to the manslaughter in September, on the second day of the joint trial and in the middle of his mother’s evidence.His sister Nicolette told the Herald the guilty plea had been ”the ultimate act of love” from Lowe to his family, who continue to support him.He has been in a full-time residential drug rehabilitation centre since June and, as part of a sentence handed down this month, he will be required to remain there until his completion of the program late next year. Lowe will then be required to serve periodic detention.He told the court he had met Mr Wright in the local drug scene and the pair had shared methamphetamines.They had made the bomb for their drug dealer to help pay off a debt.His father, a renowned scientist, had discovered the device and lectured his son, telling him he would ”take care of it”, the court heard.Days later the device blew up, causing extensive injuries to Mr Lowe, who had been trying to dispose of it in a skip.Since he entered rehabilitation, Lowe has decided to pursue a career in counselling, become a Christian and is working on his relationship with his family.”I have to honour what Dad wanted me to do,” he said. ”All he wanted was for me to get my life together, settle down, get a career, pretty much normal things.”Judge Helen Murrell choked back the tears as she described the devastating impact Lowe’s actions had on his entire family.”The offender’s family has lost a beloved father and member,” she said. ”Paradoxically, they are regaining … a son and brother.”
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苏州美甲美睫培训

History holds a future for HSC achiever

COMPLETING the Higher School Certificate is no mean feat for any student.So Susan Murphy, of Mary MacKillop College, has more reasons than most to be smiling this week – she completed her HSC despite being legally blind and profoundly deaf.Against the odds, the 19-year-old from Wetherill Park joins more than 63,000 students who receive their results tomorrow.Ms Murphy studied her HSC over two years through the Pathways program, with subjects including English, visual art, design and technology and ancient history.”The two years of my HSC was full of surprises, stressful times, exams and challenges but I managed to pull it off with the support that I had from my parents and … teachers. I love ancient history … [discovering] things that happened in the past and could lead up to now, like Egypt, Rome and all the others that [played] an interesting part in the history of the world …”Today about 100 students will receive a top-of-course award for coming first in their subject, and tomorrow all HSC students will find out their results via SMS, internet or telephone.Ms Murphy did the ”fun” parts of her HSC last year, including going to her formal and graduation with friends she had gone through school with.”It was hard when my friends left me last year, but I kept in contact with them as they wanted to stay with me regardless of me having an extra year of school to do,” she said.In her free time, she said, she read for hours and studied for ancient history – good practice for her dream job of working as a history professor in a university library, researching and writing about past events and people.The Board of Studies was able to modify some aspects of the HSC for Ms Murphy, including more study time, extra time in exams, bigger print with good contrast on exam papers and an aide present during exams in case she needed clarification.As part of the English exam’s viewing task, a film was shown on an enlarged screen, slowed down with captions.The co-ordinator of the sensory impairment program at the Catholic Education Office Sydney, Michele Cutrupi, said Ms Murphy was a studious and dedicated student who was rewarded for hours of reading.”She’s a very resilient student; she’s had to overcome so many challenges.”The HSC honours roll will be published in the Herald on Thursday and available online.
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苏州美甲美睫培训

Rees adviser gets $135,000 payout

GRAEME WEDDERBURN, Nathan Rees’s chief of staff, has been given a taxpayer-funded payout greater than $135,000 after serving just 10 months in the job. He was sacked by the new Premier, Kristina Keneally, last week.Mr Wedderburn’s record salary as Mr Rees’s chief of staff was in excess of $300,000, Labor sources have confirmed. His $270,000 salary was topped up by the party’s head office.His contract ensured he would be paid half of his annual salary if his contract was severed. The deal was negotiated with Mr Rees and the former premier Bob Carr, government sources confirmed.Mr Wedderburn, also a chief of staff to Mr Carr, was recruited to save Mr Rees’s premiership in February after a disastrous mini-budget and dire poll numbers for the Government.But Mr Wedderburn, who was also promised a Senate seat in return for taking the job, has left the Government amid some feelings of resentment and with his mission – keeping Mr Rees in the job and improving the polls – a failure.Sources said he was responsible for Mr Rees’s final speech when he said that anyone who replaced him as premier would be a puppet of the powerbrokers Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi.Mr Wedderburn also helped mastermind the rule change at the state Labor conference that enabled Mr Rees to select his own cabinet. That resulted in Mr Tripodi’s removal from the ministry.Mr Wedderburn defended his appointment, saying: ”I was lured from a senior well-paid position in the private sector to take on the task, and the termination clause was in the agreement, and I was entitled to it.”Government sources told the Herald Mr Wedderburn’s payout could not be fought because his contract was ”watertight”. He left a $700,000 a year job at Origin Energy to take the job.Mr Wedderburn has been replaced by the former Carr government’s media manager and a former close colleague, Walt Secord, who until recently was the chief of staff for the Treasurer, Eric Roozendaal.He confirmed yesterday he had a termination agreement but would not comment further.John Lee is another senior employee of the Rees government who is to receive a six-figure payout. Mr Lee, the former head of Department of Premier and Cabinet, was sacked last week after 14 months in the job.
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