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Appeal by Bin Laden son to enter Britain fails

LONDON: An attempt by one of Osama bin Laden’s sons to visit Britain has been rejected by an immigration tribunal amid questions about his proposed marriage to a British woman and his attitude to his father.Omar bin Laden, 28, lost his appeal against Britain’s refusal in April last year to allow him to immigrate with British-born Zaina Alsabah, 54, whom he claimed to have married in his homeland of Saudi Arabia in 2007.The deputy president of the asylum and immigration tribunal, Mark Ockelton, said their union ”was not to be regarded as valid in English law”, partly because they were both married to other people at the time.Mr Ockelton added that he was ”not satisfied” that the pair, who met in 2006, had any intention of marrying or living together.In rejecting Mr bin Laden’s request last year, British authorities in Egypt, where the couple were living, cited as one reason his ”continuing loyalty” to his father and said his presence in Britain could cause ”public concern”.Mr Ockelton said a person’s parents should not count against them in deciding whether or not they were allowed into Britain, but said Mr bin Laden’s view that his father was not a terrorist ”might cause concern”.”It seems to me that the presence in the United Kingdom of a person closely related to Osama bin Laden and expressing the views that the appellant does express would be likely to cause public disquiet and perhaps public disorder,” he said.Omar is the fourth of 11 children by his father’s first wife and one of reportedly 19 fathered by the man who claimed responsibility for the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.He has claimed not to have seen his father since 2000. Zaina, formerly known as Jane Felix-Browne, had been married at least five times before, the tribunal ruling said. She was described as ”in poor health, suffering from multiple sclerosis”.Agence France-Presse
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Book sheds light on organised crime by putting Mafia on the map

ROME: The Mafia is one of Italy’s most famous exports; now it even has an atlas.In a book published in Italy this week, Francesco Forgione, the president of the Italian Anti-Mafia Parliamentary Commission from 2006-2008, has used thousands of pages of court documents and judicial acts to create a map of global Mafia hot spots, or what has been dubbed the Italian atlas of organised crime.And Australia gets rather a large mention.The Mafia represents three criminal organisations – the ‘Ndrangheta from Calabria, Cosa Nostra from Sicily and the Camorra from Naples. It has become a multinational enterprise with ”branches” all over the world.Mr Forgione said Australia was ”colonised” by the ‘Ndrangheta, who used the proceeds of kidnapping in southern Italy to fund their legitimate and illegitimate business interests in Australia.In the 1980s the continent was divided into six ”territories” that were controlled by a central council in San Luca, Calabria, he said. But that could all change.”The Calabrian Mafia have a historical presence in Australia, but more recently the Napolitan Camorra has gained an important foothold in the counterfeiting of electrical appliances and clothing,” Mr Forgione said.Much in his book is known in Australia: Robert Trimboli and the Griffith marijuana trade, the expulsion of Domenico Barbaro, and more recently the scandal involving Francesco Madafferi, whose extradition order was annulled by the former immigration minister Amanda Vanstone.However, Mr Forgione goes further. Cities and suburbs that make the map include: Sydney, Helensburgh, Five Dock and Griffith in NSW; Melbourne and Wonthaggi in Victoria, Adelaide in South Australia; and Perth, Harvey, Bunbury and Hidden Valley in Western Australia. Also included are the names of those who have been convicted of, or associated with, Mafia-related crimes in Italy, and those who remain at liberty in Australia.The difference in law enforcement between the two countries was a problem, Mr Forgione said. “What is a crime in Italy is not automatically a crime in Australia. Australia for example doesn’t have a law making Mafia association a crime, as we do in Italy.”In Italy more than 8600 people were arrested between 1992 and last year for mafia-related crimes, with confiscated assets totalling more than â?¬1.3 billion ($2.2 billion), says the National Anti-Mafia Investigations Directorate.Mafia assets have been estimated at up to â?¬1000 billion, invested in legitimate and illegitimate activities across the globe, making them very difficult to track.The seizure and confiscation of Mafia assets is central to the fight against organised crime in Italy.Libera, the principal network of anti-Mafia organisations in Italy, oversees many of these projects, including the redevelopment of Mafia assets such as property, buildings and vineyards into functioning businesses whose profits are fed back into the community.A controversial proposal before the Italian Senate, however, could mean these assets are sold off at auction. Anti-Mafia campaigners say this is good for the state coffers, but too easy for the Mafia to buy back what was once theirs.But the director of Libera International Network, Tonio dell’Olio, said there had been a big rise in grassroots anti-Mafia activism in Italy. Groups such as Addio pizzo (Goodbye protection money) were being set up mainly by young people in the south.This week the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Pawel Samecki, announced that the European Union would give Italy â?¬64 million to redevelop confiscated Mafia assets in the country’s south.
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$150m DOES IT: Fardell calls on Coalition to commit to Dubbo hospital

Dubbo MP Dawn Fardell is calling on the NSW Coalition to commit before the election an additional $150 million towards the full redevelopment of Dubbo Base Hospital.
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Ms Fardell claimed recent federal government funding announcements had freed up this money which the Coalition had committed to Port Macquarie and Tamworth Hospitals.

If diverted to Dubbo Base Hospital these funds could see the redevelopment completed within five years, she said.

Opposition spokeswoman for health Jillian Skinner did not respond directly to Ms Fardell’s overture.

“The NSW Liberals and Nationals are committed to providing $50 million towards the staged redevelopment of Dubbo Hospital,” Ms Skinner said.

“The sitting member has failed to get Dubbo Hospital the funding it needs.”

In the lead up to the election the Coalition pledged $75 million to an upgrade of Port Macquarie Base Hospital and $100 million to stage one of the redevelopment of Tamworth Hospital.

Afterwards Ms Skinner wrote to federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon asking for Canberra to provide additional funds to NSW. In March the federal government announced it would deliver $96 million to Port Macquarie Base Hospital and $191 million to Tamworth Hospital from its $1.8 billion Health and Hospital Fund.

Ms Fardell said the full redevelopment of Tamworth Hospital would cost between $200 million and $215 million but other estimates put it closer to $300 million.

“So there is as much as $175 million available to redevelop hospitals in our electorate properly and completely,” she said.

“That frees up an additional $150 million to Dubbo Base and an extra $25 million for Parkes and Forbes hospitals above what

the Coalition

has already committed.”

The NSW government allocated $22.7 million for the first stage of

a Dubbo

Base Hospital redevelopment in last year’s state budget.

The $200,000 masterplan for the redevelopment was completed last month.

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Underdog just raring to unleash the Mongrel within

JUST one day after the Liberal Party impetuously decided to elect him leader, Tony Abbott has not had time to develop a plan.”I have an instinct rather than a plan,” he confesses cheerfully.The overriding instinct guiding the alternative prime minister so far? Combativeness.Malcolm Turnbull was an aggressive Opposition leader.But Abbott, the onetime Oxford boxing blue, is so full of fight he sets a new benchmark.Until now, the Opposition was anxious to avoid an election on Rudd’s emissions trading scheme. Turnbull was afraid the Coalition would be smashed if it blocked Rudd. The scheme, according to this week’s Herald poll, has the support of two-thirds of the public.The Rudd Government loomed big and imposing. Turnbull, trembling, negotiated terms. He was happy to agree with Rudd and pass the scheme into law.Yesterday we saw a role reversal. The Abbott Opposition exuberantly killed the scheme in the Senate. He wanted to follow the instinct to fight.And Abbott has dared Rudd: “I am not frightened of an election on this issue.”Now it is the Government that is hesitating. Does Rudd really want to call a double dissolution to win his emissions trading scheme? Does he want to take the risk?Julia Gillard yesterday issued an implied threat to call an election. But this is the third time the Government has issued deadlines and ultimatums to the Opposition on the matter.The Government threat is reminiscent of the scene from the satirical movie Team America, where the UN sends its chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, to warn the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-il, to submit to inspections.”Or else what?” challenges Kim.”Or else we will be very angry with you … and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.”The Rudd Government is risk-averse. Yesterday’s declaration was a play for time. Now Rudd will weigh the risks – and the polls – with extreme care.Abbott, by contrast, is raging with political testosterone. Yesterday he told the Herald that, in addition to the stoush over the emissions scheme, he was prepared to fight the Government on two more of its biggest policy initiatives. The Opposition would campaign to re-introduce the individual work contracts known as AWAs, on proviso that there is a safety net for workers.And the Abbott Opposition was prepared to fight Rudd over any move for the Commonwealth to take control over hospitals from the states.He knows full well that the odds against him are enormous. He wrote in July that an election on an emissions trading scheme was, for the Coalition, “a fight it can’t win”.But he is an underdog who, as Mark Latham said yesterday, has “mongrel” in him.
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Animated western love letter has more for adults

Sheriff Rango leads a posse in search of water-stealing bad guys in Gore Verbinski’s animated feature Rango.Rango (PG)
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When will we stop trying to fool ourselves that kids movies are expressly for kids these days when movies like this clever and entertaining celebration of the western are directed at those who have long since cast off childhood.

Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski joins forces Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), which may explain a glaring Star Wars reference, to produce the George Lucas-created company’s first stab at animation.

Rango, like Blazing Saddles, exposes a deep, abiding love for and knowledge of the western.

Verbinski, screenwriter John Logan and composer Hans Zimmer have developed a tapestry that’s stitched together using references to every great movie to come along during the western’s heyday.

The dialogue incorporates lines (or variations) from the past, shot selection mimics classic moments and the music utilizes recognizable cues and, at times, imitates entire themes.

All of the Western motifs and clichés are employed, from the showdown at high noon to the lonely tumbleweed being hurried along by a dusty wind. And even The Man With No Name makes a cameo, with Timothy Olyphant doing a passable Clint Eastwood imitation.

Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) is a chameleon living in a home aquarium until an accident strands beside a highway in the middle of a desert.

Seeking water, he strikes out into the forbidding territory and finds Dirt – the town of Dirt. It’s a miniature version of an old west frontier settlement for talking animals and Rango fits right in.

There are badgers, toads, owls, and possums. The mayor (Ned Beatty) is a turtle. The most fearsome gunslinger is a snake with a gattling gun in place of a rattle .

Rango establishes his reputation as a hero through a combination of bluster and happenstance. In a showdown with a hawk, he gets lucky when an accident brings down a disused water tower on top of the bird.

However, Dirt’s problems are not solved.

As the new sheriff, it falls to Rango to discover what has happened to the town’s water supply, which has dried up, leaving fields and mouths equally parched.

It’s all good fun and quite entertaining but not as much as the makers would have hoped, it’s a little paunchy for a ‘kids’ film and a few of the younger ones at my viewing were restless as the comic elements went on pause for a while.

It also doesn’t help that the constant referencing to other films would fly straight through to the keeper past younger viewers up to their teens, if not older.

Although Rango’s primary mode is western, it occasionally branches out to touch on other famous moments. One high octane scene begins with bats replacing Apocalypse Now gunships to the tune of Ride of the Valkyries before transforming into a version of the aforementioned iconic Star Wars death star trench.

The voice acting is pretty damn cool, with Johnny Depp taking top billing as the occasionally wisecracking Rango. He, maybe appropriately for his character, has a chameleon-like voice and is not easily recognisable.

Support comes from an eclectic group that includes Isla Fisher (as Rango’s tart-tongued love interest Beans), Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Ray Winstone, Ned Beatty, and Bill Nighy as Rattlesnake Jake.

Rango’s adventures are related by a Greek, make that mariachi, chorus of birds, playing appropriate music and wondering out loud how long it will be until Rango dies.

So there you have it a kids movie for adults that entertains but not quite as much as its aim.

Still the value is there, though parents may want to take something to keep the younger kiddies amused when the dizzying action sequences and sight gags take a breather.

Rating: 7

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Bring back work contracts

TONY ABBOTT has defiantly flagged the reintroduction of individual workplace agreements and given notice the Coalition will oppose the Rudd Government’s next big reform – the federal takeover of public hospitals.Mr Abbott also said Federal Parliament should have the same power to override state parliaments as it has to override the territories, and the states should be able to raise taxes to cover spending requirements.In an exclusive interview with the Herald, Mr Abbott indicated he would not be cowed by Government attempts to link him with a return to Work Choices.The Rudd Government banned individual Australian Workplace Agreements when it abolished Work Choices but made interim arrangements that allowed existing agreements to continue for up to five years. Mr Abbott said these agreements should be made permanent.”If it’s good enough for the Labor Government on an interim basis, I don’t see why they can’t continue,” he said.”Whatever they are called, if it’s good enough for the Labor Government to have an individual, non-union statutory contract, I don’t see why it can’t continue.”Labor was wrong to ”re-regulate the labor market” but he rejected he would re-embrace Work Choices.”Our policy will be to have freer, more flexible and fair labour markets without going anywhere near that dreaded policy that must not speak its name.”As Mr Abbott spoke to the Herald, the Senate defeated the emissions trading scheme, handing the Government a double dissolution election trigger.Next week, Kevin Rudd will put to the premiers his draft proposals for greater federal control of the public hospital system, including a financial takeover. If the states do not accept his plan by March, he will seek an election mandate.But Mr Abbott, who supported a federal takeover of hospitals when he was health minister, said the policy would be ”another fudge” and it was highly unlikely the Opposition would support it.”The Rudd Government will never do it,” he said.”There are too many state Labor governments, there are too many public sector unions that rely on the current arrangement, too many local politicians are dependent on those unions.”I think it is hugely improbable he is going to come up with a policy we are going to support.”Mr Abbott defended his combative style. ”Our job is not to make the Government’s life easy, our job is to make the Government’s life hard,” he said.He said the policy about-face that killed the emissions trading scheme was necessary to rally the party’s base. ”What we were previously asked to do was to go against every instinct of politics and that was agree with your opponents on a really contentious piece of legislation where your heartland supporters were extremely anxious or angry. That’s always a problem.”He was disappointed the Liberal senators Sue Boyce and Judith Troeth defied his leadership and crossed the floor but was prepared to forgive.”I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t stick to the last man and the last woman, but nevertheless I understand how they felt and I respect their position.”Mr Abbott promised that now he was leader, he would respect the party’s processes and not unilaterally set policy.He said the many policy ideas proposed in his book Battlelines, published this year, were OK to advance as a frontbencher but not as leader.However, Mr Abbott maintained the system of federation was dysfunctional and he was keen to explore two ideas in his book. One was to give Federal Parliament the power to override the states like it can the territories and another was ”giving the states taxing powers commensurate with their spending responsibilities”.
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An hour is a long time when waiting at the RTA

A lot can happen in an hour – or not.
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Take the RTA service centre in Dubbo for instance. We’re ready when you are, the poster says.

It doesn’t take long to read everything within eyesight, and that doesn’t include the eye test chart, which you only get to see if your number is up.

We – the growing queue of customers – were perfectly ready.

But there were only three busy-looking workers behind the counter. And spots for 7 more of them.

The mid-morning crowd was edgy, especially one woman who had been there 50 minutes. A bloke grabbed an auto ticket and was immediately called to one of the counters. The lady in waiting waited, with an armful of old number plates, fuming. She’d been there since 10:05am and it was now 10:55am.

As I said, a lot can happen in an hour.

Have you waited a long time at the RTA? Vote in our poll.

For instance:

In one hour Americans throw away 16,000 mobile phones.

In an hour you can travel 100km at the highway speed limit.

An hour in front of the TV can push up the risk of heart disease by 7 per cent, so UK researchers say.

In every hour during 2009, the world’s airlines lost 3000 pieces of luggage.

Every hour in India, seven children go missing.

Happy Hour in most pubs leaves one feeling merrier, if that is what one seeks.

But in Dubbo, at the RTA despite the efforts of the staff, not much happens and people sure aren’t merry.

For the third time, I called it quits and decided to come back another day.

Catherine Edmanson,


Longing for ancient craft to come back

Gender equality still a little way off

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Act and protect the castle: science chief

AUSTRALIA’S Chief Scientist has warned that a failure to act on climate change immediately will place the country at an economic disadvantage.On the same day the Government’s emissions trading scheme failed to pass the Senate for the second time, Penny Sackett said the economy was dependent on the environment and that there were genuine opportunities for countries wanting to be leaders in ”a new global green economy”.Professor Sackett said she had ”serious concerns” that Australia would be at ”an economic disadvantage if we don’t act now”.”By acting now we are learning how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are learning the technologies that we need to do it … by starting now we can be leaders in the global green economy,” she said. ”That’s where I would like to see Australia.”While stressing she was not a politician – Professor Sackett is a physicist by training and an astronomer by profession – she said Australia not having a legislated agreement before the Copenhagen climate talks would be ”one of the challenges” at the global meeting.Yesterday’s defeat of Labor’s emissions trading scheme means Australia will arrive in Denmark with a 2020 target for an emissions cut of between 5 and 25 per cent below the country’s 2000 levels.Like the world’s leading climate scientists, Professor Sackett argues that there are about five years to avoid the dangerous damage generated if average global temperatures increased by more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.As it stands now, she said, a 1.3 degree temperature rise is all but ”locked in”.”To meet the 2 degree target, we must halt increases in global emissions by about 2015, and then decrease them dramatically and steadily thereafter.”
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Attempted robbery of club foiled by officer

A “vigilant” Dubbo police officer and detectives have foiled a raid on the cash boxes of a bowling club.
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Two Dubbo men were yesterday remanded in custody and a third person is in hospital under guard pending charges after police moved in on the alleged break and enter at Dubbo Railway Bowling Club just hours earlier.

Wayne Anthony Stewart, 44, and Joshua Robert Stewart, 18, appeared before Dubbo Local Court yesterday charged with aggravated break and enter and commit serious indictable offence in company.

Wayne Stewart’s application for bail was refused and he will re-appear in court on April 20.

Joshua Stewart will make a second application for bail next week after Magistrate Andrew Eckhold denied him yesterday.

Orana command crime manager Detective Inspector Rod Blackman yesterday had praise for the officers who brought about the charges against the men.

“Shortly after midnight last night one of our vigilant officers managed to observe a male acting suspiciously near the

Dubbo Railway Bowling Club and more particularly around one of the Telstra boxes out the front,” Det Insp Blackman said.

Police observed three people break into the Railway Bowling Club through the roof and will allege that the Wayne Stewart, Joshua Stewart and another person were apprehended within the premises having broken into a number of cash boxes.

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Sesquicentenary for ‘good place to pull up and camp’

WPCC manager Andrew Glassop in front of the exhibition dedicated to the town of Warren and its sesquicentenary. Photo: AMY GRIFFITHSWhat would explorer John Oxley think about Warren reaching its sesquicentenary?
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The town’s mayor of the past 23 years, and a resident of the district for 65 years, Rex Wilson thinks he knows.

“He’d say ‘Gee, I picked a good place to pull up and camp’,” the mayor said.

Hundreds of people will trek back to the “wool and cotton capital of Australia”, north-west of Dubbo, to celebrate its 150th anniversary at a series of events, including Back to Warren on the June long weekend.

Among the visitors will be NSW Governor Marie Bashir, who will officially launch the sesquicentenary celebrations at a lawn party and art exhibition on April 17.

Her trip to Warren is 193 years behind that of John Oxley, the first white man to travel the district in 1818, followed by Charles Sturt in 1828.

Both moved along the Macquarie River in search of a rumoured inland sea, instead finding the Macquarie Marshes.

It was the late 1850s before a building took shape in the district, serving as a rest spot for coaches travelling from Dubbo.

On June 30, 1861, a government gazette notice declared: “A site has been fixed upon for a town to be called Warren.”

From then until now the town and shire, with a total population of 3000 people, have experienced the best and the worst, including high commodity prices and devastating drought.

Rex Wilson says Warren has survived because of its resilience and versatility, particularly when it comes to agriculture and livestock production.

“We’re also pretty flaming determined,” he said.

The challenges ahead, including resolution of the national row over water allocations from the Murray-Darling Basin, has not dissuaded the mayor from an optimistic view of the future he will not live to see.

“In 50 years time I think Warren will be a vibrant town … catering to the needs of a sustainable and profitable agricultural industry,” Cr Wilson said.

An exhibition at Dubbo’s Western Plains Cultural Centre, charting the history of Warren, has kicked off the sesquicentenary party.

A cocktail party and art exhibition is set down for the night of April 16 at Warren Sporting and Cultural Club, with profits going to the Warren Children’s Sensory-Motor Program and Calara House, a residential aged care facility.

Calara House will also benefit from the lawn party and art exhibition on April 17, supported by quality market stalls, musical entertainment and children’s activities. The Warren Show, a combined church service, street parade and gala day feature on the Back to Warren itinerary.

A sesquicentenary ball will be held on October 22.

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