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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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Business as usual: surf club continues to thrive despite Buck allegations

IN TERMS of the ”advertising” the sport received earlier in the week, there was some uncertainty about how successful yesterday’s annual open day at Clovelly Surf Life Saving Club would be.Throughout the week, the sport, along with swimming, had been embroiled in scandal with accusations of sexual abuse against former Olympic swimming coach Terry Buck.But while it is the swimming pool where Buck is largely known, he was also a big part of the Clovelly club. He is a past president and life member, and such is the esteem in which he is held, the club’s surf boat has his name emblazoned across it and his nickname, ”Bucky”, is painted inside the boat.”It went fantastic. It truly was enormous,” the club’s vice-captain and recruitment officer, Paul Jennings, said yesterday. ”We are always looking for members and we had put some ads in local mags and signs around in shops – and a couple of banners up – and today the people came past and were keen to join.”It’s been a tough week for many of the veterans at the club, men who called Buck their mate for decades until his accidental death in 2005.Some have publicly expressed their opinion on the allegations from former Olympic medallist Greg Rogers, but the club officially will not enter into the matter. ”From the club’s aspect we are respectful of Laraine [Buck’s widow] and the Buck family, and on behalf of the club we’re not going to make a comment regarding the matter and surf lifesaving,” Clovelly president Glen Clarke said.”All I will say is we respect Laraine and the family and the club is here to help them if they need any help, but from the club’s point of view, we’re not going to get involved in any aspect of the allegations at the moment because our respected life member and past president Terry Buck – who is now deceased – doesn’t need to go through this sort of stuff.””What we must not forget is the allegations were about something which supposedly happened over 40 years ago and they are are only allegations. Life saving in general is going ahead strongly.”The mood around the club, it’s business as usual. Obviously there are people within the club who have their own personal thoughts and comments on the matter, and they are entitled to that, but they can’t speak on behalf of the club.”The sport has policies and procedures in place [to protect it’s members] and that is part of the training we do. We have grievance policies in place and equal opportunity and harassment policies in place and that’s all part of the education process of any upcoming life saver. They have their rights and their individual opinions and things like that, but it’s a movement that caters for everyone’s needs and everyone has rights.”Clarke said at junior level the sport was thriving, with their nippers program fully booked already this season, with more than 300 youngsters involved, and a similar scenario prevails ”across the board with nippers on every beach”.
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Libby Trickett retires from swimming

Libby Trickett has announced that she has retired from competitive swimming.The triple Olympic gold medallist won eight world championship gold medals and is a former world record holder.”It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for almost a year now, and after much consideration and speaking with my family and close friends I know that I am ready to move on to the next stage of my life and career,” Trickett told a media conference at North Sydney Pool.”Swimming is such a great sport to be involved with and has been a huge part of my life for such a long time.”Through swimming I’ve been able to travel the world doing something that I love and this great sport has provided me with so many fantastic memories and opportunities.”I would like to thank everyone for their fantastic support throughout my career, especially my family and coaches Stephan Widmer and Grant Stoelwinder.”Trickett had not been back in training since the controversial Rome World Championships in August – the titles farcically dominated by polyurethane swimsuits – and the 24-year-old admitted she was pondering her future.Last week at a sponsors’ launch, she announced that a decision on whether she would continue or quit was imminent, as it had reached “crunch time” with the selection trials for next year’s Commonwealth Games just three months away.”A decision does need to be made in the next few weeks. It’s really important for me to do that. I do feel like I am getting closer, but I want to make sure I’m making the right decision, whatever that may be. I need to take my time and I’ve been really enjoying my break and doing lots of different things,” she said last Monday.”I’m trying to swim at least once a week and I’m trying to keep fit and active, because I love the feeling of being healthy. But you want to have good preparation for [selection] trials coming up in March, so, while I’ve tried not to rush it, it is crunch time and I do need to make a decision.”She added that the decision was “incredibly difficult”, because swimming had been a part of her life for as long as she could remember, it was a huge part of who she is, she still loved the sport and was “so passionate about it”.- with AAP
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Geeves flown in to join Australian squad

Tasmanian fast bowler Brett Geeves is flying to Perth to be on standby for the Australian third Test team as Peter Siddle continues his quest to prove his fitness.Siddle took full part in the Australian warm-up at the WACA ground this morning, bowling at full pace in the nests, without showing any outward signs of the injury to his left hamstring. The injury restricted the Victorian to just eight half-pace overs during the second innings of the second Test last week.Victorian teammate Clint McKay remains next in line to make his Test debut if Siddle is ruled out of the match, which begins on Wednesday.Right-arm quick Geeves was considered a necessary reinfrorcement to the squad despite all the other incumbent Aussie bowlers completing their training session without issue.Geeves, 27, took 3/42 in last night’s Ford Ranger Cup win by Tasmania over West Australian at Bellerive Oval in Hobart.He has played twice for Australia in one day internationals, taking three wickets at 26. He also played for Australia in a Twenty20 international.In 34 first-class matches since his Sheffield Shield debut in 2004, he has taken 134 wickets at an average of 33.41, with a best of 6/47. This season Geeves has taken 15 wickets at 27.66 for the Tigers in four Shield matches.A handy lower order bastman, Geeves made 99 not out in Shield game last year, his best of a promising career.Australian chairman of selectors Andrew Hildtich said ‘‘While the expectation is that Peter Siddle will be fit to take his place in the side, in order to ensure there is sufficient cover, a decision has been made to have Brett Geeves available as a standby player in Perth,’‘‘Brett gets his opportunity on the back of his recent strong performances in Sheffield Shield cricket and because the national selection panel feel he will be well suited to the conditions at the WACA Ground should an opportunity present itself.”Geeves and McKay will be released for state duties if Siddle takes his place in the side.About the infamous Brett Geeves blog.-with Will Brodie and AAP
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ALP members: we’ve lost faith

THE Premier and Labor Party bosses have attempted to brush off ”disgusted and outraged” rank and file members who say they have ”besmirched” the party name.At a weekend meeting of 150 mostly left-wing ALP members representing more than 50 branches, a resolution was passed that ”the rank and file has lost faith in the parliamentary leadership of the NSW branch of the party”.”Our leaders seem more intent on pursuing petty vendettas and personal careers than in putting Labor first. We remind our MPs that the party belongs to all of us; that our MPs are servants of the party, not our masters,” it said.The Government was dismissive yesterday of the complaints. The Premier, Kristina Keneally, refused to comment, saying it was a matter for the party machine.Two state MPs, Ian West and Helen Westwood, were at the meeting. The Government whip, Gerard Martin, apologised for not attending.The members were strongly critical of the parliamentary branch of the party for putting its own interests above that of the rank and file by installing Ms Keneally as Premier, replacing Nathan Rees.The resolution said the members were ”disgusted and outraged by the actions of the parliamentary caucus and head office”.”To dump a premier with the authority to clean up politics in NSW overwhelmingly granted by state conference shows how far from the membership the parliamentary caucus has drifted,” it said. ”As the rank and file, we say enough is enough. We will not sit idly by while the name of our party is besmirched.”Matt Thistlethwaite, the state secretary of the party, said the ”most comprehensive review of the party’s proceedings and regulations” had just been completed. The 38 changes adopted at the party’s recent state conference were being implemented with the assistance of a special committee, he said.”The overwhelming majority of preselections are rank and file,” he said.At the weekend’s meeting, those present supported a motion demanding that head office give rank and file members the ability to select their own candidates.They also called for Ms Keneally to maintain the ban on developer donations, and urged state electorate councils and branches to insist their MPs ”explain their actions in electing a new leader”.
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Revealed: ALP donor projects Keneally approved

KRISTINA KENEALLY personally approved at least three contentious development applications by major Labor Party donors as minister for planning, despite promising they would be determined by an independent panel.In January she approved two Stockland developments in Vincentia, on the South Coast, and in October she signed off on an industrial facility in Erskine Park being built by one of her party’s biggest donors, Jacfin.The moves contradicted one of her earliest promises when she took over the planning portfolio from Frank Sartor last year, to pass all such decisions to an independent panel called the Planning Assessment Commission.In an effort to defuse ongoing controversy about political donations influencing planning approvals, Ms Keneally issued a statement on November 6 last year, promising: “The commission will play a significant role in depoliticising the planning system by standing in the shoes of the minister and determining all development applications where a developer has made a political donation within the past two years.”Despite this, she approved two Stockland developments in Vincentia: the first stage of a new shopping centre on January 7 and a retirement village on January 28.Between 2003 and 2007, Stockland donated $105,000 to NSW Labor.In one of her final decisions before becoming Premier earlier this month, Ms Keneally approved a contentious application by Jacfin for a warehouse project in Erskine Park.The private property company was the biggest single donor to Labor between 2005 and 2007, giving $300,000. It is owned by Jacquelyn Waterhouse, whose former husband John is a cousin of the bookmaker Robbie Waterhouse.Penrith Council opposed the project because it encroached on a biodiversity area. Although Ms Keneally referred the application to the planning committee for a review in August, she retained the right to approve it.The committee reported in September that the application required ”significant” changes to allow more room for a biodiversity corridor, backing the view of the Department of Environment and Climate Change, which said in a written submission it ”does not support the reduction of the corridor’s width or effectiveness”.But on October 28 Ms Keneally approved the proposal with a significantly smaller biodiversity corridor than the committee had recommended.The Government Gazette of December 5 last year said only project applications where a ”statement has been made disclosing a reportable political donation” need be determined by the planning committee.In the wake of the Wollongong development scandal, the Government amended the laws on October 1 last year and required that all reportable political donations (those exceeding $1000) had to be declared when lodging a development application.Because the Jacfin and Stockland applications were lodged before October 1, they did not include such declarations.”At the time the application was lodged, the minister of planning was the consent authority and that was how the project was assessed and determined,” a spokesman for Ms Keneally said.The Opposition’s spokesman on planning, Brad Hazzard, said Ms Keneally should have delegated the matters regardless.
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Al-Qaeda leader killed

AN AL-QAEDA leader believed to have been the organisation’s number three has been killed in a drone strike in north-west Pakistan.The raid was part of a growing bombing campaign by the US against al-Qaeda and Taliban figures in tribal areas of Pakistan.The US media has reported that the man killed was the al-Qaeda number three, Abu Yahya al-Libi, who escaped from a US-run prison in Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2005.A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the man killed was an ”upper-tier” figure in the al-Qaeda network.The operation did not target al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden or his Egyptian deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, officials said.The drone attack comes as the US Administration prepares to send 30,000 reinforcements to neighbouring Afghanistan to try to turn the tide against a growing Taliban insurgency, which uses sanctuaries in Pakistan.The US official’s account came after Pakistani security and intelligence officials reported a missile strike from a US drone killed three suspected militants in the northwest tribal belt early on Tuesday.The attack targeted a car in Aspalga village, 12 kilometres south-east of Miranshah, the main town of the restive North Waziristan district bordering Afghanistan, officials said.North Waziristan neighbours South Waziristan, where Pakistan has been focusing its most ambitious offensive yet against home-grown Taliban militants, deploying about 30,000 troops into the region from October 17.The US air campaign employs unmanned Predator and larger Reaper drones armed with precision-guided bombs and Hellfire missiles to target al-Qaeda leaders.Officials privately say the campaign has successfully taken out some prominent figures and the director of the CIA has defended the attacks as ”the only game in town” when it comes to targeting al-Qaeda and its allies.Islamabad publicly criticises the targeted assassinations but quietly co-operates with the operations, analysts say.US Senator Dianne Feinstein let slip at a congressional hearing earlier this year that Islamabad allows the use of an air base on Pakistani soil for the drones.Islamabad is under increasing Western pressure to not only target Taliban groups attacking Pakistan, but also al-Qaeda-linked fighters and militants who cross the border and target foreign troops in Afghanistan.Washington and London have also pressed Pakistan to capture bin Laden – believed to be in the Afghan-Pakistan border area – but the authorities deny he is on their soil.Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said in an interview that Pakistan must co-operate more fully with the US to help wipe out al-Qaeda.
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We flex our lobbying muscle in fight for forests

I AWOKE this morning believing that this would be an important day in Copenhagen for the intact natural forests of the world.After three frantic days of intense closed-door discussions, a new draft text is to be produced for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.The shape of a final agreement on the future of the lungs of the Earth – the great forests of Brazil, the Congo, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea – will emerge more clearly.I’ve been working intensively on forest issues in a new climate agreement with the Wilderness Society for a year. We bring our knowledge, campaigning skills and lobbying muscle to bear on the fate of carbon-rich natural ecosystems in both developed and developing countries.Deforestation is responsible for 20 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions and without tackling this, we have no chance of holding temperature rise below 2 degrees and avoiding dangerous climate change.Arriving in the chill morning at the conference centre, the numbers have swollen. People from all corners of the Earth converge in their fabulous array of traditional dress, spill through the concourse and chatter intently in myriad languages.First I chair the daily meeting of the Ecosystems Climate Alliance, which work on forests, peatlands and wetlands, indigenous rights and forest governance. We share information, devise strategies, allocate responsibilities for the day.We’ll need to react fast to the new text, analysing, writing it up and using all methods to communicate rapidly our views to the negotiators and to the world. US President Barack Obama has made a speech using the words ”protect forests” and ”avoid deforestation” while supporting Brazil and Norway’s fund idea. It is encouraging.I’m asked to help formulate and quickly email some text into the closed meeting to resolve an impasse on wording to block funding conversion of native forests to plantations.As I am finishing this job, a US colleague asks for help. Would I compose some talking points for a media conference? I outline that there are sticking points on assigning percentage figures to the goals, and on protecting indigenous rights and intact forests.Then it transpires that a second stream of the forest negotiations has hit turbulence. The agenda is now in disarray. In the media conference, the PNG negotiator is on the platform, receiving phone calls regarding the impasse.When the blockage is overcome, it is apparent that meetings will go well into the night. It will be morning before the text is seen so we might as well have dinner and sleep.Mid-meal, the message comes. We have a leaked copy of new text now under debate in the no-access night session. I’ll be working late after all, to get the jump with an analysis and a message about what it means for the world’s forests before breakfast tomorrow.Peg Putt, the former leader of the Tasmanian Greens, is representing the Wilderness Society in Copenhagen.
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Protest puts pressure on summit to produce a deal

A PLANETARY chain of protests headed by a mass rally in Copenhagen yesterday cranked up the heat on problem-plagued talks to build a pact to roll back climate change.The centre of the Danish capital was in virtual lockdown, with thousands of police deployed or on standby ahead of a six-kilometre march that would take green and anti-capitalist demonstrators to the UN conference venue.”All week we have heard a string of excuses from northern countries to make adequate reparations for the ecological crisis that they have caused,” said activist Lidy Nacpil of the Philippines, from a group called the Jubilee South Coalition.”We are taking to the streets to demand that the ecological debt is repaid to the people of the south.”Within the Bella Centre congress hall, Nobel prizewinner Archbishop Desmond Tutu was to lead children in creating ”a sea of candles” representing a call from generations imperilled by climate change.From Australia to the Arctic circle, protesters readied banners and chants, urging the 12-day marathon to meet the threat posed by man’s meddling with the climate system.Scientists say rising concentrations of greenhouse gases – mainly the invisible by-product of burning oil, gas and coal – are trapping solar heat, warming the earth’s surface and disrupting weather patterns.If these emissions fail to peak less than a decade from now, the world is doomed to more vicious droughts, flood, rising seas and storms, spelling hunger, homelessness and disease for millions, the experts say.If all goes well, the 194-nation conference under the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will wrap up on Friday with a historic deal sealed by more than 110 heads of state and government. It would commit major economies to actions that would curb their carbon emissions and set up a financial machine to generate hundreds of billions in dollars for poor countries most exposed to the ravages of climate change.But since the start of the talks on Monday, progress has been negligible and the mood soured by finger-pointing.A draft blueprint, presented on Friday, ran into problems almost immediately among the three main groups of players – developing countries, emerging giant economies and the United States.Poorer countries lashed the blueprint for failing to spell out commitments on finance while the US complained it failed to bind China and other high-population, fast-growing economies to tough pledges on emissions.Conference chairwoman Connie Hedegaard scheduled an informal meeting with environment ministers yesterday in the first of what is likely to be a gruelling effort to break the deadlock.Those rostered to attend include US President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Premier Wen Jiabao of China, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan and the heads of the European Union.
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Our million-dollar babies

PARENTS may well regard their children as priceless but new research has put a dollar value on bringing up babies in Australia.Raising the average family from the cradle to when they leave home will set parents back $1,028,000, the research has found, and this could be an underestimate if other factors are used to calculate the cost of child rearing, such as lost wages.Social researcher Mark McCrindle added the essential costs such as food, clothing and housing with other expenses that he says parents usually outlay on their children – such as toys, holidays, eating out, sport, private education and household furniture and equipment that are used just by children.Previous calculations of child-rearing had assumed children left home and became independent at age 21, Mr McCrindle said, but his study found this was out of date.”In today’s Australian families, the majority of young people stay in the parental home and rely on their parents for some of their expenses until their mid-20s,” he said.The average family had 2.7 children and parents were having babies later than their parents did. The parents were also more likely to both have an income, creating ”the most financially endowed generation of children ever”.”Parents have more money per child and spend more per child than their parents did,” Mr McCrindle said. About 30 per cent of primary students and 40 per cent of high schoolers were at non-government schools. Most parents spent more than $100 a year on toys a child – a quarter spent more than $500.Mr McCrindle found that the cost of education, including private schooling and tutors, was $95,000. But a separate breakdown of the amount that parents spend on a child’s education, done by the Australian Scholarships Group and including everything from textbooks to uniforms, internet access and incidentals, found that sending a child to a public school in Sydney cost $123,353. For private schools that could blow out to more than $450,000.The group’s general manager, Warwick James, said many parents did not realise how much schooling cost.Another significant cost of child-rearing was lost wages, usually the mother’s.Research published in 2004 found that women of ”middling education” who had one child missed out on about 30 per cent, or $247,000, of their potential lifetime earnings. That increased to more than 50 per cent, or $420,000, if they had three children, the report authors, Trevor Breusch and Edith Gray, from the Australian National University, found.”More highly educated women lose less proportionally than the less educated, although their dollar amounts of forgone earnings are higher,” they said.An expert in measuring the lifetime costs of raising children, Paul Henman, director of the social policy unit at the University of Queensland, said parents’ income was the biggest factor in determining these costs.
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Is it reigning cats or dogs?

THE claws are out after an international study comparing dogs and cats confirmed that the former has earned the moniker of man’s best friend. Canines and felines were put to the test in 11 categories (and dogeries!), with dogs winning “by a whisker”.The pet showdown, which New Scientist magazine compiled from scientific journals, declared tractability (or manageability), bonding and understanding gave dogs their “superior vocabulary and eagerness to engage”.Pooches collected bonus points for being an older species â?? historically speaking â?? and for problem solving and being all-rounders.Cats scored highly for having almost twice as many brain cells and a greater population.They also won in vocalisation and for having better senses: a more acute nose, superior night vision and a higher auditory range than the average dog.The study also found cat food had a smaller ecological pawprint.But Associate Professor Paul McGreevy from the University of Sydney’s faculty of veterinary science said the calculations were questionable. The “best in show” title was best left up to the individual.”It depends on what sort of an interaction you are looking for,” said Dr McGreevy, author of A Modern Dog’s Life. Humans and dogs may have a more profound relationship because their interactions were not confined to the home. “Plenty of people travel with dogs, go to work with dogs, and exercise with dogs,” he said.Bradley Trevor Greive, author of Why Dogs Are Better Than Cats, said it was like comparing a polar bear with a flamingo: “People think cats are a low-cost, low-effort equivalent of a dog but they’re entirely different and because of that we have these huge problems with so many dumped pets.”Bambi Edwards, who has been breeding cats at Cronulla for 30 years, said cats were perfect for the elderly: “The more time you give a cat the more you get out. Cats are very intelligent . . . they respond to their owner’s voice and footsteps.”Margaret and Rob Walden, from Sydney’s northern beaches, who have three Rhodesian ridgebacks, said a home without dogs lacked life. â??I show them, take them on holidays, walk them and they’re happy when you come home,” Mrs Walden said.The pet subjectsSMARTSWinner: Cats. A cat’s brain mass compared with its body mass is much bigger than that of the average dog, according to New Scientist. Cats have 300 million neuron cells in the brain, compared with a dog’s 160 million.HISTORYWinner:Dogs. Evidence suggests cats have been around for 9500 years, whiledogs have been traced back to between 16,000 and 135,000 years ago.FELLOWSHIPWinner:Dogs. “By nature, cats are loners,” the study said. Yet dogs havedescended from pack animals. “Give a four-month-old puppy the choiceand it will choose a human companion over a dog.”MASS APPEALWinner:Cats. In the top 10 cat-owning countries there are almost 204 millioncats, while in the top 10 dog-owning countries there are fewer than 173million pooches.UNDERSTANDINGWinner: Dogs.”Dogs can follow human pointing gestures such as an outstretched fingeror nod of the head to find food,” the study said. The “superiorvocabulary” of a dog and “eagerness to engage with its owner” also madethem winners.PROBLEM SOLVINGWinner: Dogs.They favour a collaborative approach. Being guide dogs for the blindand their ability to step in and solve problems for their masters arelisted as positives.VOCALISATIONWinner:Cats. This is supported by a study this year which reveals that catscan use their “crooning to ensnare us . . . they produce a sound thatbrings out our nurturing side”.TRACTABILITYWinner: Dogs.Findingit easy to learn and obey rules makes dogs the winners here. They”learn the same way as human infants . . . with the dog attending tocues such as eye contact, gesture and vocalisation”, the study said.SUPER SENSESWinner:Cats. The average cat with its 200 million smell receptors has a moreacute nose than a dog. Cats can also see in light levels six timeslower than we can, while dogs can only see five. A cat’s auditory rangeof 45 to 64,000 hertz is also greater than a dog’s 67 to 45,000 hertz.ECO-FRIENDLINESSWinner: Cats. The average cat requires 0.15 hectares of land a year to keep it fed, while a medium-sized dog needs 0.84 hectares.UTILITYWinner:Dogs. They are the clear winner here, owing to their ability to hunt,herd and guard. They are used to detect drugs and bombs with theirnoses, race for sport and pull sleds. They also have health and socialbenefits for owners by needing to be walked.
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