Former Labor MPs acted corruptly

Written By komlim puldel on Rabu, 31 Juli 2013 | 20.02

The ICAC will today recommend whether former NSW MPs Ian Macdonald and Eddie Obeid should face charges.

Expect plenty of expressions like this today. Source: AFP

BREAKING NEWS: TWO former high-profile Labor MPs, Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald, have been found by the NSW ICAC to have acted corruptly and referred for possible criminal charges.

Following the largest corruption investigation in NSW history, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) today handed down three reports.

Commissioner David Ipp has recommended that Mr Obeid and Mr Macdonald be considered by the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) for possible prosecution over their involvement in the Mount Penny coal mine.

Mr Obeids' son Moses, and businessmen Travers Duncan, John McGuigan, John Atkinson, John Kinghorn and Richard Poole were also found to have engaged in corrupt conduct.

Operation Jasper investigated reports that Mr Macdonald rigged a 2008 tender process to grant a coal licence over land at Mount Penny owned by the Obeid family.

It enabled the Obeids to make $30 million, with the prospect of earning at least $70 million more.

As part of the Indus investigation, ICAC found Mr Obeid's son, Moses, engaged in corrupt conduct over a $10,800 car for former Labor minister Eric Roozendaal.

The corruption watchdog investigated whether Mr Roozendaal received a new Honda CRV at $10,800 - less than its original value - in return for political favours for his colleague, Eddie Obeid.

The ICAC reports said that Moses Obeid "provided a benefit to Mr Roozendaal as an inducement for him to show favour to Obeid business interests in the exercise of his official functions".

Mr Roozendaal was not found to have acted corruptly. More to come.

Earlier Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he was "disgusted" by revelations that have been aired at the hearings of ICAC into members of the NSW Labor Party and anyone found guilty of illegal behaviour should face the full force of the law.

"That's what I want to see happen," the Prime Minister said.

"I've been disgusted by what I have seen in ICAC hearings so far and my view is anyone who is responsible for corruption or illegal behaviour should face the full force of the law."

Mr Rudd said he hoped the federal intervention into the NSW branch of the Labor Party would help clean it up.

"I would say it was for no idle reason that I took a virtually unprecedented step of directing federal intervention in the NSW branch of the Labor party," Mr Rudd said.

"This set of reforms are anchored in one core principal - zero tolerance for corruption - and I expect that to be fully reflected in the intervention we have taken."

ICAC today presented three reports relating to the business dealings of Ian Macdonald, Eddie Obeid and Eric Roozendaal.

The findings of ICAC's Commissioner David Ipp were expected to be damning.

These are the three reports and five things you might need to know about each of them:

OPERATION JARILO: In which a massage didn't have a happy ending...

'Who, me?' asks Ian Macdonald Source: News Limited

1. Sometimes referred to as the Tiffanie Report or the "neck massage" incident after the former NSW resources minister Ian Macdonald met a woman in a Sydney hotel room who, ICAC heard, stripped down to her underwear. Mr Macdonald testified he had gone there for a neck massage and fallen asleep.

2. In July, 2009, the then head of state power company Country Energy, Craig Murray, was invited by Mr Macdonald to a dinner at Tuscany, a restaurant in Sydney's inner-west Italian quarter of Leichhardt. Mr Murray went with a fellow executive for back-up, a worthwhile precaution.

3. Suddenly Mr Medich and another businessman sat down at a table which had been added to the one Mr Murray was sitting at, and made an uninvited pitch for business from Country Energy as Mr Macdonald looked on.

4. Mr Macdonald ordered four bottles of wine costing $130 each, but because Country Energy had strict rules barring gifts from business suitors, Mr Murray had to pick up the $850 dinner bill.

5. ICAC heard Mr Gattellari, an associate of Mr Medich and involved with him in a separate murder case, later paid $400 for a hotel room where Mr Macdonald later turned up (See Tiffany).

OPERATION JASPER: In which properties miraculously increased in value...

He who must be Obeid Source: News Limited

1. Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid has declared his income was his pay as a member of the NSW Upper House but his sons ran a wide range of businesses, from cafes to roadside poles, and also had interests in coal leases.

2. Eddie Obeid, who had remarkable influence even as a back bencher, helped the career of Mr Macdonald, a left-winger, through his faction.

3. In 2007-08 the Obeids and acquaintances bought property in a valley about 250km north of Sydney as rural retreats. This changed in 2008 when Mr Macdonald agreed to open a mining area in the Bylong Valley for coal exploration, which greatly increased the value of the Obeid holdings.

4. Some of Eddie Obeid's profits, estimated to be in the several millions, from the property dealings went to the lease of a $300,000 Mercedes.

5. Mr Macdonald was given the nickname Sir Lunchalot because of his fondness for dining out, including his 2008 lunch of pork and beef and a magnum of pinot noir.

OPERATION INDUS: In which a remarkably cheap car was procured...

Eric Roozendaal Source: News Limited

1. In May 2007 Amanda Roozendaal, wife of Labor MP and former treasurer Eric Roozendaal wrote off the family Honda and the search for a replacement led to Eddie Obeid, who passed the matter to son Moses who was able to find a $44,800 Honda which would cost the Roozendaals just $34,000.

2. The Roozendaals didn't have the ownership papers at first and it was only Mrs Roozendaal's car accident - and her decision not to stop to pay for the damage - that revealed the trail of people who on paper owned the car but had never seen, raising suspicions in ICAC they were used to pretend the Honda was cheaper because it was second hand.

3. There is at least one good citizen in this saga. A professional musician who had business in Surry Hills saw the bingle-and-run incident and took down the Honda's licence number to give to the owner of the parked car which had been hit. The Roozendaals had been driving their new car for just two days.

4. Mr Roozendaal, a former ALP state secretary, was a supporter of the Obeid faction known as the Terrigals after the NSW coastal resort town. The Terrigals ran the state party and their support was needed to get ministerial jobs, and to become Premier.

5. ICAC has investigated whether the provision of a cheap vehicle played a role in any consultation by the Obeids with Mr Roozendaal when he became State Treasurer.

Cleaning up NSW Labor is seen as crucial to Mr Rudd's chances at the upcoming federal poll. The government needs to hold on to a host of western Sydney seats to retain power.

Opinion: Kevin Rudd insulated from corruption fallout

On July 4, Mr Rudd gave NSW ALP secretary Sam Dastyari 30 days to report on cleaning up the branch, and sought changes including the expulsion of any member found to be corrupt or engaging in improper conduct.

But Liberal MP Jamie Briggs said the Rudd "intervention" was all for show, as many of the key powerbrokers pulling the strings within the ALP were still in senior positions.

He said many of those who helped Mr Rudd return to the Labor leadership had strong ties with the ALP secretariat and had since been promoted by the prime minister.


20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

Manning not guilty of aiding enemy

Bradley Manning, who leaked damaging US military documents, has been cleared of the most serious charge. Source: NewsComAu

US soldier Bradley Manning has been found not guilty of aiding the enemy for giving troves of US government secrets to WikiLeaks, but guilty of other charges including theft and espionage.

The military judge hearing the court-martial for the former intelligence analyst announced her decision at 3am AEST.

Judge Colonel Denise Lind deliberated for about 16 hours over three days before reaching her decision in a case that drew worldwide attention as supporters hailed Manning as a whistleblower. The US government called him an anarchist computer hacker and attention-seeking traitor.

Who is Bradley Manning and why should you care?

Manning faced 21 counts including espionage, computer fraud and theft charges. He was convicted of five espionage counts, five theft charges, a computer fraud charge and other military infractions.

However, he was found not guilty on the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, which carried a possible life sentence without parole. He was also acquitted of one other charge.

What did Bradley Manning actually leak?

A military judge finds Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy - the most serious charge among many he faced for handing over documents to WikiLeaks. Deborah Lutterbeck reports

Manning, a 25-year-old native of Crescent, Oklahoma, has admitted to sending more than 470,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports, 250,000 US State Department diplomatic cables and other material, including several battlefield video clips, to WikiLeaks while in Iraq in early 2010. WikiLeaks published most of the material online.

A video, titled "Collateral Murder", was released by Manning in 2010 and included footage of a 2007 US Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed at least nine men, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

Manning's lawyers painted him as a naive young soldier, struggling with gender identity disorder and troubled by US actions in Iraq.

Wikileaks 'traitor' wanted to be born a woman

Manning stood and faced the judge as she read the decision. She didn't explain her verdict, but said she would release detailed written findings. She didn't say when she would do that.

Manning's attorney, David Coombs, smiled faintly when he heard not guilty on aiding the enemy, which carried a potential life sentence.

Bradley Manning is escorted by military police as he leaves trial after he was found not guilty of aiding the enemy, but guilty of espionage, theft and computer fraud for leaking classified  US government documents to WikiLeaks. Picture: Getty

Assange calls convictions 'national security extremism' 

When the judge was done, Mr Coombs put his hand on Manning's back and whispered something to him, eliciting a slight smile on the soldier's face.

Manning's sentencing hearing is set to begin Wednesday. Despite being cleared on the most serious charge, Manning faces up to 128 years in prison for his breaches of the espionage act.

Mr Coombs came outside the court to a round of applause and shouts of "thank you" from a few dozen Manning supporters.

"We won the battle, now we need to go win the war," Mr Coombs said of the sentencing phase. "Today is a good day, but Bradley is by no means out of the fire."

Yoni Miller and other Manning supporters demonstrate outside the main gate of Ft Meade, Maryland overnight. Manning could face around 130 years in prison for spying, despite being found not guilty of aiding the enemy. Picture: Getty

Supporters thanked him for his work. One slipped him a private note. Others asked questions about verdicts that they didn't understand.

Manning's family said they were disappointed in the guilty verdicts, but thanked supporters and defence attorneys, in a statement written by his aunt and released to The Guardian.

"While we are obviously disappointed in today's verdicts, we are happy that Judge Lind agreed with us that Brad never intended to help America's enemies in any way," it said. "Brad loves his country and was proud to wear its uniform."

They also thanked Manning's supporters, saying "Their support has allowed a young army private to defend himself against the full might of not only the US army but also the US government."

WikiLeaks denounced the verdict, saying it reflected "dangerous national security extremism from the Obama administration". Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called Manning "a hero", BBC News reports.

Manning leaves military court after he was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy. Picture: AFP

WikiLeaks said on Twitter that the conviction of Manning on several counts of espionage set a "very serious new precedent for supplying formation to the press".

Mr Assange held a press conference from London's Ecuadorian embassy, where he said he expected the verdict would be appealed.

"Bradley Manning's alleged disclosures have exposed war crimes, sparked revolutions and induced democratic reforms," Mr Assange said.

"He is the most important journalistic source the world has ever seen."

The best known US rights group, the American Civil Liberties Union reiterated its concern about the use of anti-spying laws to curtail government whistleblowers.

"While we're relieved that Mr Manning was acquitted of the most dangerous charge, the ACLU has long held the view that leaks to the press in the public interest should not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act," said Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

David Coombs, second right, lead defence attorney for Manning greets supporters outside the military courtroom after the verdict. Manning's family has thanked Mr Coombs for his years of work on the case. Picture: AP

"Since Manning already pleaded guilty to charges of leaking information - which carry significant punishment - it seems clear that the government was seeking to intimidate anyone who might consider revealing valuable information in the future."

The verdict by judge Col. Denise Lind follows about two months of conflicting testimony and evidence.

Manning pleaded guilty earlier this year to lesser offences that could have brought him 20 years behind bars, yet the government continued to pursue the original, more serious charges.

Manning said during a pre-trial hearing in February he leaked the material to expose the US military's "bloodlust" and disregard for human life, and what he considered American diplomatic deceit. He said he chose information he believed would not the harm the United States and he wanted to start a debate on military and foreign policy. He did not testify at his court-martial.

Defence attorney David Coombs portrayed Manning as a "young, naive but good-intentioned" soldier who was in emotional turmoil, partly because he was a gay service member at a time when homosexuals were barred from serving openly in the US military.

He said Manning could have sold the information or given it directly to the enemy, but he gave them to WikiLeaks in an attempt to "spark reform" and provoke debate. A counterintelligence witness valued the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs at about $US5.7 million ($6.2 million), based on what foreign intelligence services had paid in the past for similar information.

In this courtroom sketch, Bradley Manning, third from left, stands with lead defence attorney David Coombs, centre, and his defence team as Judge Col. Denise Lind reads her verdict. Picture: AP

Mr Coombs said Manning had no way of knowing whether al-Qaida would access WikiLeaks and a 2008 counterintelligence report showed the government itself didn't know much about the site.

The defence attorney also mocked the testimony of a former supervisor who said Manning told her the American flag meant nothing to him and she suspected before they deployed to Iraq that Manning was a spy. Mr Coombs noted she had not written up a report on Manning's alleged disloyalty, though had written ones on him taking too many smoke breaks and drinking too much coffee.

The government said Manning had sophisticated security training and broke signed agreements to protect the secrets. He even had to give a presentation on operational security during his training after he got in trouble for posting a YouTube video about what he was learning.

The lead prosecutor, Maj. Ashden Fein, said Manning knew the material would be seen by al-Qaida, a key point prosecutor needed to prove to get an aiding the enemy conviction. Even Osama bin Laden had some of the digital files at his compound when he was killed.

Some of Manning's supporters attended nearly every day of two-month trial, many of them protesting outside the Fort Meade gates each day before the court-martial. They wore T-shirts with the word "truth" on them, blogged, tweeted and raised money for Manning's defence. One supporter was banned from the trial because the judge said he made online threats.

Hours before the verdict, about two dozen demonstrators gathered outside the gates of the military post, proclaiming their admiration for Manning.

Activists demonstrate in support of Manning and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Berlin this week. Picture: Getty

"He wasn't trying to aid the enemy. He was trying to give people the information they need so they can hold their government accountable," said Barbara Bridges, of Baltimore.

The court-martial unfolded as another low-level intelligence worker, Edward Snowden, revealed US secrets about surveillance programs. Snowden, a civilian employee, told The Guardian his motives were similar to Manning's, but he said his leaks were more selective.

Manning's supporters, including Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, believed a conviction for aiding the enemy would have a chilling effect on leakers who want to expose wrongdoing by giving information to websites and the media, and on journalists who publish the informaiton.

Before Snowden, Manning's case was the most high-profile espionage prosecution for the Obama administration, which has been criticised for its crackdown on leakers. The espionage cases brought since Mr Obama took office are more than in all other presidencies combined.

The WikiLeaks case is by far the most voluminous release of classified material in US history. Manning's supporters included "Pentagon Papers" leaker Daniel Ellsberg, who in the early 1970s spilled a secret US Defence Department history of US involvement in Vietnam.

The 7000 pages of the "Pentagon Papers" showed that the US government repeatedly lied to the public about the Vietnam War.

WikiLeaks said Manning's conviction on spying charges sets a "very serious new precedent" for whistleblowers who supply information to the press. Picture: AP

The material WikiLeaks began publishing in 2010 documented complaints of abuses against Iraqi detainees, a US tally of civilian deaths in Iraq, and America's weak support for the government of Tunisia - a disclosure that Manning supporters said helped trigger the Middle Eastern pro-democracy uprisings known as the Arab Spring.

The Obama administration said the release threatened to expose valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America's relations with other governments.

Prosecutors said during the trial Manning relied on WikiLeaks and Assange for guidance on what secrets to "harvest" for the organisation, starting within weeks of his arrival in Iraq in late 2009.

Federal authorities are looking into whether Assange can be prosecuted. He has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex-crimes allegations.

Manning is escorted out of a military courthouse in Fort Meade earlier this year. He told a pre-trial hearing he leaked the secret documents to WikiLeaks to expose what he saw as the US military's "bloodlust" and disregard for human life. Picture: AP

20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

Inside story of Storm's Inglis deal

Greg Inglis for the Storm in 2010, the year the salary cap scandal broke. Picture: Colleen Petch Source: DailyTelegraph

PAUL Kennedy's book Storm Cloud chronicles the rise, fall and rise of the Melbourne Storm. In this exclusive extract, he takes us back to 2008 when the Storm were negotiating the contract of star player Greg Inglis.


IN 2008 the re-signing of Greg Inglis became a major issue for Melbourne Storm.

Inglis was the most exciting prospect in Australian sport. Three months earlier he had helped his country beat New Zealand in the Centenary Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

There was a quiet understanding between (then Storm boss) Brian Waldron and Inglis's manager Allan Gainey. Both had been quoted in the press as saying they were not worried about Inglis leaving Storm. But still ... just to be safe. Neither wanted to even contemplate the star heading overseas. Gainey replied, "Quite happy to do so".

At that time Inglis had a decent contract: $420,000 (2009) and $450,000 (2010). Gainey knew any extension would mean a pay rise for player and manager.

Greg Inglis and his speed boat.

Before one of the earliest meetings, Gainey spoke privately to Inglis about his asking price.

Gainey said, "I think you should go for 500 to 550." Inglis instructed, "550 would be better."


Five hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year - a good place to start.

Waldron sat down with them later and opened with a curious statement. He said he had been told by the NRL that he must do whatever it takes to secure the future of Inglis at the Storm and in the NRL long term.

Cover of Storm Cloud, Melbourne journalist Paul Kennedy's new book on the Melbourne Storm's unprecedented salary cap cheating.

Gainey took Waldron to mean that he had been empowered by the NRL, News Ltd and the Storm board of directors to negotiate whatever it would take - that he had a totally free hand to keep Inglis in the league. The CEO proposed a four-year deal.

Inglis had been contracted to Storm for 2007-2010. His performances were improving and his stature in the game was growing at club, state and international levels. Gainey said, "Greg will need a financial package of $550,000 per season to extend his contract to represent his true market value."

Waldron nodded and said he didn't think that was a problem. But he added the package would have to include third-party agreements and mentioned the possibility of a federal government program for outstanding indigenous athletes.

Gainey says he thought Waldron meant the NRL would approve any increase in salary and perhaps involve its sponsors in some legitimate side deals.

Gainey spent the rest of the meeting chasing up extras. Inglis wanted a sponsor's car to drive and he wanted airfares for his family. The agent also mentioned money owed. Inglis had still not been paid promised money through the league development scheme. Also, there was $40,000 outstanding from a contract variation.

Melbourne captain Cameron Smith has warned the rest of the NRL: Write the reigning premiers off at your own peril.

The world's most exciting player had not spoken much during the meeting, letting his agent go to work. In wrapping up, Waldron concluded that he would seek the endorsement and ratification of the board at Storm and get back to Gainey.

As everyone was leaving Inglis said to Waldron, "Is there any chance of getting a boat for Dad?" Not even Gainey knew his client was going to make the request.

Waldron replied, "When you're ready I'll give you a contact person and they'll look after you. Up to a maximum of $30,000."

A week after the Federation Square meeting, Gainey and Inglis caught up briefly at Manly Pacific Hotel. Storm were playing the Sea Eagles at Brookvale the following day. The agent and footballer itemised the terms for extending Inglis's contract.

Inglis liked the look of the items and numbers. "I'll stay if you can get that deal done," he said.

Then Inglis flagged, almost as an afterthought, his desire for Storm to provide rental assistance to his parents should they relocate to Melbourne (they were planning to do so). Gainey said he would try to include it. He left the meeting experiencing relief and satisfaction.

News Ltd is the publisher of this website.

This is an edited extract from Storm Cloud: Melbourne Storm's Demise and Resurrection by Paul Kennedy, published by Hardie Grant Books. RRP $29.95. Available in stores nationally.

20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

Praise for Francis's remarks on gays

Written By komlim puldel on Selasa, 30 Juli 2013 | 20.02

Pope Francis smiles before departing for Rome after concluding a week-long trip to Brazil, at the air base in Rio de Janeiro. Source: AFP

POPE Francis's remarks that he would not "judge" homosexuals have been praised by celebrities and the faithful alike as "largely symbolic,"' but a big step in the right direction.

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis asked during a plane journey back to the Vatican from his first foreign trip in Brazil.

The comments set off a firestorm on social media, tweets mentioning the word Pope spiked from 20,000 to well over 100,000 following news of the comments which seem at odds with statements from the previous pontiff.

Francis's predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. But Francis was much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.

While progressive Catholic and gay rights groups said the Church still has a long way to go.

Prominent gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign said, while his "words do not reflect a shift in Church policy, they represent a significant change in tone."

"The widespread positive response his words have received around the world reveals that Catholics everywhere are thirsty for change," HRC's president Chad Griffin said.

This graph shows the number of tweets that mentioned the word Pope in the hours after Pope Francis said he wouldn't judge gay people.


Likewise, a progressive US Catholic group, Catholics United, which has been very critical of Church leadership, said Francis' comments "speak to what every young person knows: God loves gay people, and so should the Catholic Church.

"Pope Francis' call for the acceptance of gay priests is a direct repudiation of the backward beliefs of many ultra-conservative ideologues in the Church," the group's leader James Salt said in a statement.

Pope Francis, in some of the most conciliatory words from any pontiff on gays, said they should not be judged; as he upholds ban on women priests. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

"This statement on gay people, while largely symbolic, is a big step in the right way."

But both groups said the Church still has a long way to go.

"As long as millions of LGBT Catholic individuals, couples and youth alike are told in churches big and small that their lives and their families are disordered and sinful because of how they are born-how God made them-then the Church is sending a deeply harmful message," HRC's Griffin said.

Celebrities were also quick to react with Bette Midler questioning if the comments about gay Catholic priests represent real change.

Cardinals, bishops and priests take photos as they wait for the arrival of Pope Francis and the start of the World Youth Day closing Mass in Rio.

 Film maker Michael Moore, who was raised Catholic, welcomed the words as reflecting the true teachings of the church.

Irish singer Brian McFadden said Pope Francis's words were a start for a faith that needs to do more to move with the times.

Even 'God', the popular Twitter parody account with the handle @TheTweetOfGod, thought it was about time the Catholic Church reached out to the gay community.

Other reactions welcomed Francis's modern approach to the issue.

Pope Francis waves to crowds in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as the city hosts World Youth Day.


In the wide-ranging news conference, the Pope spoke not only of not judging gay clergy but also commented on allegations that that one of his trusted monsignors was involved in a scandalous gay tryst

He was funny and candid and even thanked the journalist who raised allegations reported by an Italian newsmagazine.

Francis said he investigated and found nothing to back up the allegations.

Pope Francis poses for a picture with military police outside the Metropolitan Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro.

Francis was asked about Italian media reports suggesting that a group within the church tried to blackmail fellow church officials with evidence of their homosexual activities. Italian media reported this year that the allegations contributed to Benedict's decision to resign.

Stressing that Catholic social teaching that calls for homosexuals to be treated with dignity and not marginalised, Francis said it was something else entirely to conspire to use private information for blackmail or to exert pressure.

Francis was responding to reports that a trusted aide was involved in an alleged gay tryst a decade ago. He said he investigated the allegations according to canon law and found nothing to back them up. But he took journalists to task for reporting on the matter, saying the allegations concerned matters of sin, not crimes like sexually abusing children.

And when someone sins and confesses, he said, God not only forgives but forgets.

"We don't have the right to not forget," he said.


The directness of his comments suggested that he wanted to put the matter of the monsignor behind him as he sets about overhauling the Vatican bank and reforming the Holy See bureaucracy.

Speaking in Italian with occasional lapses in his native Spanish, Francis dropped a few nuggets of other news:

- He said he was thinking of travelling to the Holy Land next year and is considering invitations from Sri Lanka and the Philippines as well.

- The planned December 8 canonisations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will likely be postponed - perhaps until the weekend after Easter - because road conditions in December would be dangerously icy for Poles travelling to the ceremony by bus.

- And he solved the mystery that has been circulating ever since he was pictured boarding the plane to Rio carrying his own black bag, an unusual break from Vatican protocol.

"The keys to the atomic bomb weren't in it," Francis quipped. Rather, he said, the bag merely contained a razor, his breviary prayer book, his agenda and a book on St Terese of Lisieux, to whom he is particularly devoted.

"It's normal" to carry a bag when travelling, he said. "We have to get use to this being normal, this normalcy of life," for a pope, he added.

Francis certainly showed a human, normal touch during his trip to Rio, charming the masses at World Youth Day with his decision to forgo typical Vatican security so he could to get close to his flock. Francis travelled without the bulletproof Popemobile, using instead a simple Fiat or open-sided car.

"There wasn't a single incident in all of Rio de Janeiro in all of these days and all of this spontaneity," Francis said, responding to concerns raised after his car was swarmed by an adoring mob when it took a wrong turn and got stuck in traffic.

"I could be with the people, embrace them and greet them - without an armoured car and instead with the security of trusting the people," he said.

He acknowledged that there is always the chance that a "crazy" person could get to him. But he said he preferred taking that risk than submitting to the "craziness" of putting an armoured wall between a shepherd and his flock.

Francis' news conference was remarkable and unprecedented: Pope John Paul II used to have on-board press conferences, but he would move about the cabin, chatting with individual reporters so it was sometimes hit-or-miss to hear what he said and there were often time limits. After Benedict's maiden foreign voyage, the Vatican insisted that reporters submit questions in advance so the theologian pope could choose the three or four he wanted to answer and prepare his answers.

For Francis, however, no question was off the table, no small thing given that he is known to distrust the mainstream media and had told journalists en route to Rio that he greatly disliked giving news conferences because he found them "tiresome".

Francis spoke lovingly of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, saying that having him living in the Vatican "is like having a grandfather, a wise grandfather, living at home." He said he regularly asks Benedict for advice, but dismissed suggestions that the German pontiff was exerting any influence on his papacy.

On the contrary, Francis said he had tried to encourage Benedict to participate more in public functions at the Vatican and receive guests, but that he was "a man of prudence".

In one of his most important speeches delivered in Rio, Francis described the church in feminine terms, saying it would be "sterile" without women. Asked what role he foresaw, he said the church must develop a more profound role for women in the church, though he said "the door is closed" to ordaining women to the priesthood.

He was less charitable with the Vatican accountant, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, who has been jailed on accusations he plotted to smuggle 20 million euros ($29 million) from Switzerland to Italy and is also accused by Italian prosecutors of using his Vatican bank account to launder money.

Francis said while "there are saints" in the Vatican bureaucracy, Scarano wasn't among them.

The Vatican bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, has been a focus of Francis' reform efforts, and he has named a commission of inquiry to look into its activities amid accusations from Italian prosecutors that it has been used as an offshore tax haven to launder money.

Asked if closing the bank was a possibility, Francis said: "I don't know how this story will end."

"But the characteristics of the IOR - whether it's a bank, an aid fund or whatever it is - are transparency and honesty."

20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

Guys, why you don't have sex as often as you want

Russell knows how to get the ladies. Picture: File Source: Supplied

SEX . It's a great thing, right? Maybe even the best thing, when shared between two or more people. Problem is, for us fellas, it's not always the easiest thing in the world to get.

The ladies, they can be a fickle bunch - one day they're going on about how they want a man who's assertive and confident, and the next they say they want a man who'll listen, who's sensitive and probably something else but I wasn't really paying attention (there was football on TV).

The moral is, getting laid is hard enough when we don't go ahead and further sabotage our chances, and yet that's what I see so many guys doing. There's no shortage of men out there moping around and asking themselves why they aren't getting more action, as though they're an otherwise perfect catch and society must have put them on some kind of sexual blacklist. Well, society didn't. You did. Here's how:

You're boring

It's pretty universal that when we're picking sex partners, we're likely to go with the more interesting candidate if given a choice. In order to be interesting, that means having interests of some kind. Any kind, really. There's a reason that a lot of chicks dig guys who are artsy or musical, and it's because those men can easily demonstrate that they have pursuits that fall outside the realm of finding food, finding shelter or finding sex.

Now, that's not to say the most boring man in the world isn't a guitarist who focuses on nothing else, or that the most interesting man in the world isn't an accountant who also happens to enjoy painting and amateur paleontology. There are no concrete rules, but if you spend your life simply going to work, looking for sex and then subsequently complaining about your lack of sex, you're not going to have much luck.

You make changes for the wrong reasons

Did you read that and then immediately run out and take up some new hobbies with the intention of getting laid? Of course you did, you fool. Fact is, life doesn't work that way. You can certainly make some changes in your life that may lead to you doing better with the ladies, but you can't make changes for the express purpose of getting laid and expect it to work. If you're, say, a normal dudebro who does normal dudebro things like drink beers and watch sports, why are you all of a sudden signing up for a pilates class? Do you even know what pilates is? Now, there's nothing wrong with putting yourself in a better position to meet more women, but if that's your only motivation, they're going to know it right away. If you don't have any success with your new hobby, you'll give up and will have wasted time and money with nothing to show for it. Instead, if you're going to make positive changes in your life, make them for you. Don't join the expensive gym because it has all the hot babes; join the one that will be most conducive to getting you TOTALLY JACKED. Do you enjoy cooking? Then why are you taking a painting class? Take a cooking class instead.

It's always good to try something new, but ask yourself this: If someone told you your activity of choice was going to consist of only men, would you still do it? If the answer is no, maybe find something more relevant to your interests.

Your Priorities Are Screwed Up

I see a lot of guys go out, and they're looking for... something. They just aren't sure what, exactly. Going out with the specific intention of sleeping with women can be fine, provided you're able to find some girls who are after the same thing (this is rare). A lot of other guys go out with no real plan or agenda, and there's nothing wrong with enjoying a night out with your friends. In fact, if you spend a lot of free time searching for "prey," this can be a great change of pace. Most guys, though, will go out without any clear idea of what they want, and then wind up discouraged when their night doesn't magically end in sex. Are you so pent up that you're just looking for a release? Well, you have hands and an internet connection for that. Are you looking for someone to whom you can vent your frustrations and feelings? You need friends, not a lover. Do you want to have an intense, deeply emotional connection with someone? You're not looking for sex, you're looking for a relationship.

The only way to get whatever it is you're after is to want the same thing most women (and normal people) want - a night spent meeting people, having a lot of fun and maybe ending in copulation if it feels right. Having fun and being a fun person is what leads to sex, not the other way around.

Your Standards Are Off

If you're really just looking to go out, meet someone and get laid, you can't, on the other hand, be super picky about who that person is. That's just life. If you've decided, through whatever process, that you're going out and viewing women as sex objects that exist solely for your satisfaction, you have to be willing to accept a woman who will not only allow herself to be seen that way, but sees you the same way herself. Those women definitely exist, but the reality is that it's not going to be the tall, smoldering brunette with a killer personality and a lot of friends around her.

If you're going to admit your desperation in seeking out a one-night stand, you need someone equally desperate, and desperate people tend not to be well-adjusted social butterflies. Those women don't have a problem attracting male attention, so nothing you can say or do in the course of an evening is going to convince her to take a chance on you and let you upstairs (or downstairs, as the metaphor may be). Look -- everyone falls into slumps, and sometimes in order to feel attractive or like you've "still got it," you need a warm body beneath you. That's fine, just don't expect that warm body to be Kate Upton's.

You're Delusional

A lot of guys don't get any play because they're too busy feeling sorry for themselves. After all, if you can't love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to? Other guys have the opposite problem, or at least the same problem but with the opposite cause -- they think the problem lies with everyone else. They have this attitude that basically says, "I'm living the dream and absolutely killing it over here, but these bitches don't seem to want to put out." If that's you, then you probably need to grow up a little.

Having a job that allows you to make your revelry even more Dionysian than it was in uni does not an adult make. Adult women want to sleep with adult males, and being annihilated at 1AM on a Tuesday doesn't exactly convey ambition or responsibility. If you haven't changed your ways (and not just habits, but attitude in general) as you've grown older, don't be surprised when Lake Hoohaa dries up. They've just moved on to guys they have more in common with. Besides, blaming everyone else makes you sound like a crazy person. "Jeez, all these people are nuts. At least I have my tinfoil hat to keep the government from recording my thoughts."

Whatever the case, most problems come down to an issue of attitude and self-awareness. If you live your life and accomplish things in such away that you believe you're a pretty swell dude, other people, women, will start to agree. The sooner you know who you are and what you want, the sooner the ladies will want to know those things as well.

This article originally appeared on AskMen.

20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

Why do Lego men have holes in their heads?

HAVE you ever wondered why those little yellow Lego minifigures have holes in their heads?

Well, it's simpler than you probably thought.

The Danish toy manufacturer started putting the holes in the heads as a safety precaution.

"We added this hole on the top of the head just in case any kids got one of the heads stuck in their throat. That way they would be able to keep breathing."

In the same series of questions, Lego says it produces about 19 billion Lego pieces a year, and has made more than 400 billion bricks since 1958.

20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

Australia's mysterious location

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 29 Juli 2013 | 20.01

Gap in our knowledge... The War on Terror continues to be fought from here Source: Supplied

LAST week, it was revealed that the Australian research facility Pine Gap might be indirectly responsible for US drone strikes which have killed Pakistani citizens.

How did that happen? And what exactly is Pine Gap? Here's a quick cheat sheet for those of you who've vaguely heard of Pine Gap but never bothered to find out much more.


Pine Gap is a secretive facility nearly 20km south-west of Alice Springs which has been there since 1970. Run by both Australia and the United States, its official name is the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, even though our government really hates to admit it exists.

As for persuading the government to describe what it's there for, forget it. We contacted the national office of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and none of the three lines answered. So we rang two state offices, both of which told us to ring the national lines that weren't answering.

"It is fair to say that Pine Gap has some fairly awesome capabilities when it comes to intelligence gathering," said a former worker at Pine Gap, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak about his work. "It's hard to imagine, but I suppose that's the nature of the game. It's secretive."


Surely they should know better than to tell you to turn around this close to double lines. Source: Supplied

Pine Gap is essentially a satellite tracking station, situated in the middle of nowhere because that makes it hard for other countries to intercept the signals emitted from within. It is thought that the US controls all of its spy satellites from Pine Gap, and that the US and Australia "listen to Asia" from the 14 antennae concealed beneath white domes at Pine Gap. Put it this way, those white domelike structures aren't a cat boarding facility.


Renegade American intelligence guy Edward Snowden revealed just recently that Pine Gap is one of the key facilities used in US surveillance.


Yes. A Pakistani lawyer went on record this week saying Pine Gap tracks the communications of al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. This, he says, enables the US to target those militants with its drone strikes. Sadly, these strikes kill civilians in addition to killing military targets.


Pine Gap is the small cleared area above the pink A in the bottom left. The town of Alice Springs is top right. Picture: Google maps Source: Supplied

Pine Gap employs up to 1000 people. When you think about it, 1000 jobs in a town of 25,000 people is like 160,000 people working at one company in a city of four million people such as Melbourne. So basically, it's the biggest employer in town. Not that anyone admits that. Meet one of the Americans who seem to be everywhere in The Alice and they'll tell you they work as a "gardener", when they're probably some sort of high-level intelligence operative. Because of the American influence, festivals such as Halloween and Thanksgiving are huge in Alice Springs.


A 1986 picture of Peter Garrett, then just a rock star, who was campaigning to close the Pine Gap facility. Source: News Limited

There have been numerous protests on site over the years, although Pine Gap's remote location has the effect of making mobilised opposition difficult. The excellent '80s rock band Midnight Oil sang several songs in opposition to US military presence in Australia, and Pine Gap bobbed up in the famous song Power and the Passion in the line:

Flat chat, Pine Gap, in every home a Big Mac

That lyric appeared to be referring to an insidious American incursion into our lives at all levels - cultural, military and so on.

These days Peter Garrett works for the same government that won't pick up its phone to acknowledge Pine Gap's existence.


Several groups believe Pine Gap is a secret facility investigating UFOs and aliens. According to one particularly imaginative website, three UFOs are being dissected at Pine Gap as we speak - complete with frazzled bodies. The UFO guys didn't answer the phone either.

20.01 | 0 komentar | Read More

Twenty things 20-year-olds don't get

A young woman works in an office wearing a headset. Picture: Thinkstock Source: Supplied

  • Entrepreneur gives tips for twenty-something workers
  • Young workers "should be getting your butt kicked"
  • Read more books, less tweets, and protect your reputation

AT age 34, online business resources entrepreneur Jason Nazar admits he has made a heap of mistakes along the way. Today he employs a group of twenty-somethings who are making their own set of mistakes.

Here's his top gripes about Gen Y in the workplace.

Time is not a limitless commodity – In our 20s we think we have all the time in the world to A) figure it out and B) get what we want. Make the most of the opportunities you have today, because there will be a time when time itself is much more limited.

You're talented, but talent is overrated - Congratulations, you may be the most capable, creative, knowledgeable & multi-tasking generation yet. But there's no prize for talent, just results. Even the most seemingly gifted people have methodically and painfully worked their way to success.

Have you read?

We're more productive in the morning – While I was still in my 20's I prided myself on staying at the office until 3am on a regular basis.  But in retrospect I got more menial, task-based items done. Now I stress an office-wide early start time because I know, for the most part, we're more productive as a team in those early hours of the day.

Social media is not a career – These job titles won't exist in 5 years. Social media is simply a function of marketing. It's not an end in itself. I'd strongly caution against pegging your career trajectory solely to a social media job title.

Pick up the phone – Stop hiding behind your computer. Business gets done on the phone and in person. It should be your first instinct, not last, to talk to a real person and source business opportunities.

Be the first in & last to leave ­– If you are starting a new job or still in the formative stages of your professional career you have more ground to make up than everyone else around you, and you do have something to prove. There's only one sure-fire way to get ahead, and that's to work harder than all of your peers.

Working in your twenties means you should be the first in and the last to leave. Picture: Thinkstock Source: Supplied

Don't wait to be told what to do – You can't have a sense of entitlement without a sense of responsibility. You'll never get ahead by waiting for someone to tell you what to do. Saying "nobody asked me to do this" is a guaranteed recipe for failure. Err on the side of doing too much, not too little.

Take responsibility for your mistakes – You should be making lots of mistakes when you're early on in your career. But you shouldn't be defensive about errors in judgment or execution. Stop trying to justify your F-ups.

You should be getting your butt kicked – Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada would be the most valuable boss you could possibly have. Working for someone that demands excellence and pushes your limits every day will build the most solid foundation for your ongoing professional success.

A new job a year isn't a good thing ­­– One-year jobs tell me that you don't have the discipline to see your own learning curve through to completion. It takes about 2-3 years to master any new critical skill, give yourself at least that much time before you jump ship.

People matter more than perks – It's so trendy to pick the company that offers the most flex time, unlimited meals, company massages, game rooms and team outings. Those should all matter, but not as much as the character of your founders and managers. Great leaders will mentor you and will be a loyal source of employment long after you've left.

Meryl Streep plays the ultimate office bitch in The Devil Wears Prada. Picture: Supplied Source:

Map effort to your professional gain – You're going to be asked to do things you don't like to do. Keep your eye on the prize. Connect what you're doing today, with where you want to be tomorrow. That should be all the incentive you need.

Speak up, not out – We're raising a generation of sh-t talkers. In your workplace this is a cancer. If you have issues with management, culture or your role & responsibilities, SPEAK UP. Don't take those complaints and trash-talk the company or co-workers on lunch breaks and anonymous chat boards.

You HAVE to build your technical chops – Adding "Proficient in Microsoft Office" at the bottom of your resume under Skills, is not going to cut it anymore. I immediately give preference to candidates who are technical ninjas regardless of their job position.

Both the size and quality of your network matter – It's who you know more than what you know, that gets you ahead in business. Knowing a small group of people very well, or a huge smattering of contacts superficially, just won't cut it. Meet and stay connected to lots of folks, and invest your time developing as many of those relationships as possible.

You need at least 3 professional mentors – The most guaranteed path to success is to emulate those who've achieved what you seek. Their free guidance and counsel will be the most priceless gift you can receive.

Gen Y savers Fabiola Escalante and Alana Peake, both 24. Picture: Glenn Barnes Source: National Features

Pick an idol and act "as if" – You may not know what to do, but your professional idol does. I often coach my employees to pick the businessperson they most admire, and act "as if". You've got to fake it until you make it, so it's better to fake it as the most accomplished person you could imagine.

Read more books, less tweets/texts – Your generation consumes information in headlines and 140 characters: all breadth and no depth. Creativity, thoughtfulness and thinking skills are freed when you're forced to read a full book cover to cover. Make sure to read a book a month (fiction or non-fiction) and your career will blossom.

Spend 25 per cent less than you make – When your material needs meet or exceed your income, you're sabotaging your ability to really make it big. Be willing and able to take 20 per cent less in the short term, if it could mean 200 per cent more earning potential. No matter how much money you make, spend 25 per cent less to support your life.

Your reputation is priceless, don't damage It – Your reputation is the most valuable currency you have in business. It's the invisible key that either opens or closes doors of professional opportunity. Guard it like the most sacred treasure. It's the one item that, once lost, you can never get back.

From Forbes

20.01 | 0 komentar | Read More

Girl 'encouraged' teen gang rape

Audrie Pott, 15, committed suicide after allegedly being gang-raped and pictures of the assault were posed online. Source: Supplied

A GIRL is accused of "encouraging" the gang rape of a classmate and taking pictures of the alleged sexual abuse that were posted online.

Audrie Pott committed suicide last September after passing out drunk at a party at a friend's house in Saratoga, Northern Carolina.

The Saratoga High School student told police that boys whom she had known for years took off her clothes and sexually assaulted her, including writing and drawing on intimate parts of her body and taking cellphone photos of their actions.

The three boys accused of sexually assaulting the 15-year-old were arrested on charges of sexual battery and distribution and possession of child pornography. They were released from a juvenile detention centre last month and ordered into house arrest as they await trial.

Audrie's parents have now added a 15-year-old girl to their lawsuit alleging she was present in the room when the assault occurred and encouraged the boys 'to expose and/or photograph and/or draw on Audrie's body', according to the amended lawsuit.

The new defendant, identified only as Jane C as she is a minor, encouraged the assault and the taking of pictures, according to the lawsuit.

She then buttoned and zipped Audrie Pott's shorts, covered her with a blanket and left her alone.

The lawsuit claims that Jane C. lied about her involvement to cover up the assault.

Audrie tried to confront the boys accused of attacking her online and posted her feelings about it on social media.

'I have a reputation for a night I don't even remember and the whole school knows,' she wrote in one Facebook message to a friend.

'I cried when I found out what they did,' she wrote in another.

Larry and Sheila Pott, the parents of Audrie Pott who have lodged a lawsuit for damages after their daughter's suicide. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) Source: AP

Attorney Robert Allard initially sued the boys and adults Michael Penuen and Sheila Penuen in Santa Clara County Superior Court, alleging battery, defamation, wrongful death and several other claims.

The suit seeks unspecified damages.

Michael Penuen and Sheila Penuen left their teenage daughter behind while they went out of town. She allegedly told her parents that she was spending the night at Audrie Pott's home, instead teenagers gathered at the Penuens' home and drank alcohol.

Audrie's family spoke to The Mercury News about their daughter's death in May.

"She was picked on because she was pretty, because she was popular, because she was nice,' said Larry Pott.

The lawsuit claims that school officials were negligent and mishandled the bullying which Pott endured just before her suicide.

"[Audrie] was subjected to atrocities committed by her classmates and then subjected to humiliation and shame through bullying on her campus."

Larry Pott said at a press conference when charges were laid: "With no assault, with no cyber-bullying, Audrie is in art class right now."

For help with emotional difficulties, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or

For help with depression, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or at

The SANE Helpline is 1800 18 SANE (7263) or at

20.01 | 0 komentar | Read More

Train driver 'negligent homicide' suspect

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 28 Juli 2013 | 20.02

Spanish police have formally detained the driver of a Spanish train that derailed, killing at least 78.

SPAIN'S interior minister announced that the driver whose speeding train crashed, killing 78 people, is now being held on suspicion of negligent homicide.

Minister of Interior Jorge Fernandez Diaz announced the step against driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, who previously had been detained on suspicion of recklessness.

The minister also said Mr Garzon, 52, has been discharged from the hospital and taken to a police station.

Blame has increasingly fallen on the driver, with the country's railway agency saying it was his responsibility to brake before going into the high-risk curve where the train tumbled off the rails and smashed into a wall. But it's still not clear whether the brakes failed or were never used, and the driver has remained silent so far, refusing to answer police questions.

A blood-soaked Mr Garzon was photographed on Wednesday being escorted away from the wreckage, at first by civilians who had hurried to the scene of the accident and then by police, but it is not clear just what his medical status is.

Unconfirmed media reports said that Mr Garzon had injured ribs.

He had been expected to give a preliminary statement to judicial police as early as Thursday, but that process was delayed, reportedly due to health reasons. Earlier Saturday, the justice department said Mr Garzon's first appearance before a judge had been postponed until Sunday.

Video has emerged of the horrific moment a high speed train derailed in Spain's north-western Galicia region, killing dozens and injuring many more. Courtesy LiveLeak

In Wednesday's crash, the train's eight carriages packed with 218 passengers blazed far over the speed limit into a curve and violently tipped over. Diesel fuel sent flames coursing through some cabins.

The president of Adif, the Spanish rail agency, said that the driver should have started slowing the train 4 kilometres before the dangerous bend. He said signs clearly marked this point when the driver must begin to slow.

Normally, police take a first statement that is then examined by an investigating judge who must then take testimony within 72 hours of the arrest. That deadline is today.

Although that initial court hearing would be closed, it would give hints about the status of the investigation. The judge would decide whether to jail the driver as an official suspect, release him on bail, or release him without charges. If a judge finds sufficient evidence for a criminal trial, the suspect will be charged and a trial date set.

Earlier, Spanish police say the train driver accused of "recklessness" in a high-speed derailment that killed at least 78 people has refused to respond to police questions.

The driver was formally detained earlier on Friday following reports that he admitted driving at 190km/h, over twice the speed limit, at the time of the deadly crash in the northwestern region of Galicia.

Train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo is helped by two men as he is evacuated from the site of the horrific train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Picture: AP

"The driver has refused to answer the police authorities," said a police spokesman, adding that the case will now "proceed to a judicial process as soon as possible".

Asked at a news conference earlier in the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela why the driver was being detained, Jaime Iglesias, the Galicia police chief, said it was, "for recklessness."

A Spanish judge on Thursday ordered police to question the hospitalised driver following reports he was going twice the speed limit when the train derailed on a sharp bend on Wednesday evening just outside Santiago de Compostela.

The driver, while trapped inside his cab immediately after the accident, told railway officials by radio that the train had taken the curve at 190km/h, unidentified investigation sources told leading daily El Pais.

The speed limit on that section of track is 80km/h.

"I hope no one died because it will weigh on my conscience," the driver said, according to the paper's online edition.

This combo image from security camera video shows a train derailing in Santiago de Compostela, killing at least 78 people. The driver has reportedly admitted to speeding, saying the deaths would weigh on his conscience. Picture: AP

The grey-haired driver, pictured in the media with blood covering the left side of his face after the crash, has been with Spanish state railway Renfe for 30 years and has 13 years' experience as a driver, the rail firm said.

A security camera captured the moment when the train crashed.

The train flew off the tracks as it reportedly tore at twice the speed limit around a bend in northwestern Spain, killing at least 80 passengers and

The footage shows the train rounding a bend, making a turn to the left underneath a road overpass.

In an instant, one car tumbled off the track, followed by the rest of the locomotive, which seemed to come apart like a zipper being pulled.

The crash, which injured more than 140, is the nation's deadliest rail disaster since 1944.

A fireman carries an injured young girl from the wreckage. Picture: AFP

Mr Garzon Amo is reported to have posted a picture on the site of a train speedometer at 190km/h last year.

According to reports he also boasted about how fast he was going. The webpage has disappeared after images appeared on Spanish TV and newspaper websites.

In the CCTV footage of the crash, the train's first carriage behind the locomotive appears to come off the tracks first, slamming the tail of the locomotive into a concrete wall.

All the carriages can be seen starting to come off the tracks as the locomotive hurtles toward the camera position.

The security camera footage appears to stop at the moment that the engine crashes into it.

Carriages piled into each other and overturned in Wednesday's crash, smoke billowing from the wreckage of mangled steel and smashed windows as bodies were laid out under blankets along the tracks.

Two men comfort an injured woman next to a derailed car following the horrifice train accident. The death toll has risen to 80 people, with 95 still in hospital. Picture: AFP

Murray Hughes, consultant editor of Railway Gazette International, said it appeared that a diesel-powered unit behind the lead locomotive was the first to derail. The front engine itself quickly followed, violently tipping on to its right side as it crashes into a concrete security wall and bulldozes along the ground.

In the background, all the rear carriages can be seen starting to decouple and come off the tracks. The picture goes blank as the engine appears to crash directly into the camera.

After impact, witnesses said a fire which engulfed passengers trapped in at least one carriage most likely from the diesel fuel carried in the locomotive units.

"I saw the train coming out of the bend at great speed and then there was a big noise,'' said one eyewitness who lives beside the train line, Consuelo Domingues. ''Then everybody tried to get out of the train.''

The eight carriages derailed on a stretch of high-speed track about 4km from the station in the city, the destination of the famous El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage which has been followed by Christians since the Middle Ages.

The train was the Alvia model which is able to adapt between high-speed and normal tracks. It had left Madrid and was heading for the coastal shipbuilding town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James.

Emergency personnel respond to the scene of the horrific train derailment in Santiago de Compostela. Spain has declared three days of mourning after the crash killed at least 80 people and injured more than 140. Picture: AP

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a native of Santiago de Compostela, visited the scene of the accident on Thursday and declared three days of mourning.

King Juan Carlos and Crown Prince Felipe called off their public engagements out of respect for the victims.

Rescue workers spent the night searching through smashed carriages alongside the tracks.

As dawn broke, cranes brought to the scene were used to lift the carriages away from the tracks. Rescue workers collected passengers' scattered luggage and loaded it into a truck next to the tracks.

Rescuers described a scene of horror immediately after the crash. Smoke billowed from at least one carriage that had caught fire, while another had been torn into two parts.

Residents of the residential neighbourhood closest to the rail line struggled to help victims out of the toppled cars. Some passengers were pulled out of broken windows. Television images showed one man atop a carriage lying on its side, using a pickaxe to try to smash through a window. Other rescuers used rocks to try to free survivors from the fiery wreckage.

Relatives of passengers involved in the train crash comfort each other as they wait for news in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The driver has reportedly admitted to speeding, saying the train was going 190km/h in an 80km/h stretch of track. Picture: Getty

Nearby, rescue workers lined up bodies covered in blankets alongside the tracks.

Several witnesses spoke of a loud explosion at the time of the crash.

"I was at home and I heard something like a clap of thunder, It was very loud and there was lots of smoke," said 62-year-old Maria Teresa Ramos, who lives just metres from the site.

"It's a disaster, people are crying out. Nobody has ever seen anything like this," she added.

Rescue workers recovered 73 bodies from the wreckage and four more victims died later in hospital, a spokesman for the Galicia high court said.

It is the worst rail accident in Spain since 1944, when hundreds were killed in a train collision, also between Madrid and Galicia.

Rescuers tend to a victim next to a derailed car.  Picture: AFP

Renfe said the train had no technical problems and had just passed an inspection on the morning of the accident.

"We will know what the speed is very soon when we consult the train's black box," a Renfe spokesman said.

The town hall of Santiago de Compostela called off concerts and firework displays that had been planned as part of the festivities in honour of its patron saint.

Hundreds of local residents and tourists attended a nearly two-hour mass in the city's imposing cathedral to pray for the victims.

Pope Francis called for prayers, while France, Poland, Italy and the European Union sent their condolences.

The accident is the third large rail disaster this month after six people died in a passenger train derailment near Paris on July 12, and 47 were killed when an oil train derailed and exploded in Canada on July 6.

Rescuers tend to victims next to derailed cars at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela.  Picture: AFP

Earlier, public television TVE said the train may have derailed because it was speeding at the time, but a spokesman for state railway company Renfe said it was too soon to say what caused the accident.

"Deadly High Speed" the El Mundo daily's headline ran. The paper reported that the train had been travelling at 220km/h in an urban zone with a speed limit of 80km/h. The El Pais suggested the train was travelling at 180km/h.

"There are bodies laying on the railway track. It's a Dante-esque scene," Alberto Nunez Feijoo, president of the regional government, told news radio Cadena Ser.

Several injured passengers said they felt a strong vibration just before the cars jumped the tracks, according to Xabier Martinez, a photographer who talked with them after arriving at the scene as rescue workers were still removing bodies.

One passenger, Ricardo Montero, told the Cadena Ser radio station that "when the train reached that bend it began to flip over, many times, with some carriages ending up on top of others, leaving many people trapped below. We had to get under the carriages to get out.''

Another passenger, Sergio Prego, told Cadena Ser the train "travelled very fast'' just before it derailed and the cars flipped upside down, on their sides and into the air.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (centre) walks with Spain's Public Works Minister Ana Pastor, right and the President of Galicia Alberto Nunez Feijoo, second from left at crash scene. Rajoy declared three days mourning after 80 were kileld in the high-speed derailment. (AP Photo/Emilio Lavandeira)

"I've been very lucky because I'm one of the few able to walk out,'' MrPrego said.

It was the world's third major rail accident this month.

On July 12, six people were killed and nearly 200 were injured when four cars of a passenger train derailed south of Paris. On July 6, 72 cars carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Megantic, Ontario, setting off explosions and fires that killed 47 people.

Other major train crashes in Spain include a 1944 accident involving three trains that crashed in a tunnel. That disaster produced wildly disputed death tolls ranging from the government's official count of 78 to more than 500, according to later research

In 2006, 43 people died when a subway train crashed because of excessive speed in the southern city of Valencia. In 2004, 191 died when al-Qaida-inspired terrorists detonated 10 bombs on four Madrid commuter trains.

With AP

A derailed train car is lifted by a crane at the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela. (AP Photo/Lalo Villar)

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Dozens of people were killed and at least 70 injured when a train derailed on the outskirts of the northern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

A train has derailed near the town of Santiago de Compostela in Spain's north west, killing at least 78 people. Picture: Twitter

The derailed train near the city of Santiago de Compostela. Picture: Twitter

20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

'My cat Pickle is a haunting devil-beast'

Watching. Judging. Waiting. #Pickle Source: Supplied

The Cat photobombing my post-workout selfie. Pickle 1-0 CP. Source: Supplied

Born killer. Olympic sleeper.

Lord of the manor, hero of the internet, guardian of the shut-in spinster, sworn enemy of The Dog Person.

Sunbaker and prowler whose left-over food and excess hair and litterbox blankets your house with a smell which can only be described as: "I wear the pants here and you know it. Do something about it."

When you think about it, there's not much going for the cat. It's probably why people say things like "I hate cats" or "I'm going to put it in the dishwasher".

Until I met Pickle, The Girlfriend's "fur child", I was a hater. Have you ever looked into a cat's eyes for two or more seconds at a time? Nothing but scornful disdain. And cats are always there. Watching. Judging. Waiting. Feed me. Pat me. Don't pat me. Pat me again. Never touch me. OK, just a little. We're done now. Medicate me.

Now I've gotten to know Pickle (we reached an… "understanding") I've come to learn cats actually have uses. They keep you on a tight schedule. They burn your self-esteem. They photobomb your post-workout selfies. And as much as we love dogs, cats aren't so needy.

The internet loves cats. It's because we don't understand them. There's a certain curiosity and mystery to them. They drive. They read newspapers. Their grammar is impeccable. But has the novelty worn off? Has the cat had its day basking in the http-sun? Have we reached caturation point? Can't we just resume our collective dislike for the self-absorbed little douchebeasts?

I don't think so, and here's why: Cats are us and we are them. They are basically humans except they're not humans. We don't love Grumpy Cat because it's grumpy and it's a cat. We love Grumpy Cat because WE are Grumpy. We need them.

"I've always said, 'Let Bartlet Be Bartlet'." Source: Supplied

It's why we coo when they sit up in bed and watch The West Wing. It's the reason we hit Instagram the moment they stand on two feet ("He thinks he's people!"). It's the only explanation for why we give and give and give, and they only take, yet we continue to give. They're like an a***hole grandmother who spews vitriol and forgets your birthday but you love all the same.

Indeed, the cat is an enigmatic creature. Highly intelligent. Fiercely independent. And not for the needy, according to Dr Lisa from Bondi Vet.

"Their love is conditional. It's always on the cat's terms," she told "They love the owners if they do what they want. Cats are much more fussy than dogs. They think they're above humans. Dogs are always just 'there'. But a cat will be on the bookshelf, or on a kitchen bench, looking down on their owners, their slaves.

"They believe we are subservient to them. Some people quite like that cats are self-sufficient and happy to do their own thing: what they want, how they want and when they want. "

Oh. So that's why The Girlfriend and I crave Pickle's attention so much it HURTS. "They're highly intelligent. They're much wiser than anyone would believe," Dr Lisa added.

I don't care if they're smart. I just want their approval. I want them to look at me with loving eyes. Not sinister, cunning, judgment, watch-your-step-or-it'll-be-your-last, eyes.

"They plan and they think and tend to have that enigmatic manner about them," says Dr Lisa.

So, really, really, watch your step.

Then there's the final piece in the cat puzzle: the aging single woman, aka the Crazy Cat Lady. She collects the things for sport. She talks to them about shopping and having too much salt in their diet. She can be overheard inviting acquaintances over to their studio to "meet the gang".

But maybe the Crazy Cat Lady holds the key to unlocking the mystery. Does she know something we don't? Can she talk to them? Has she washed her hair since the summer of 2004? Let's ask this anonymous stranger how she feels:

Yeeeeeeeah. She lives alone. (Picture: Tumblr) Source: Supplied

Way to keep the mystery alive.

Chris is currently trying to convince #Pickle to LOVE HIM. Also, he's on Twitter: @christoforpaine


20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

'Burnt out' Bombers boss quits club

Julian de Stoop has the latest on the shock resignation of Essendon chairman David Evans.

ESSENDON coach James Hird won't stand down before the ASADA report into the club's drugs saga is handed down.

That's the view of Bombers great Tim Watson, father of club captain Jobe.

Hird is increasingly isolated after the shock resignation of chairman David Evans last night, prompted in part by a physical breakdown in the changerooms after Essendon's match against Hawthorn on Friday night.

Evans was treated by club medical staff after complaining of breathlessness, having a light head and struggling with his vision after the match.

The stress of the five-month investigation into alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, combined with revelations that he and coach James Hird were at loggerheads over conversations leading up to Essendon "self-reporting", led to Mr Evans' health deteriorating.

Bombers at risk of being gutted

James Hird today, after the resignation of David Evans. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

His stunning resignation happened less than two weeks before the ASADA-AFL investigation report is to be completed.

Asked on Channel 7's Game Day if Evans' departure would shake Hird's resolve, Watson said: "I don't think so, I don't think that's changed at all.

"He and David had a strong working relationship, they've been friends for 20 years … obviously this has taken a toll on everyone, he spoke about that post-game on Friday night and obviously David one of those people in his mind at the time and there are others too so he, like everyone else, would like this to conclude.

"But what he has shown throughout all this, James, is he's been stoic, he's been strong and he's stood his ground and he'll maintain that."

Evans' resignation has left Essendon reeling - it now has lost its chief executive and chairman within a matter of months.

Evans did not refer to personal issues or his disagreement with Hird.

He described the events as a tragedy, but was confident the club would survive.

The Essendon drugs saga has claimed its biggest casualty with chairman David Evans announcing his resignation effective immediately.

Players rally behind Evans

"I strongly believe that the best thing for the club at this stage is for a new chairperson in order to see through the next phase of this challenging and difficult time for our club," Mr Evans said.

"Leadership is tough at times and I have tried to lead with fairness and integrity and at the same time acknowledging responsibility to make the right decisions.

"I am confident that this decision is one of those."

"What is happening at our club right now is a tragedy, but I know that it will survive," Mr Evans said.

Essendon coach James Hird walks up the race after his three-quarter time address against Hawthorn on Friday night.

Kick 'pests' out of the game

Bombers officials have been deeply concerned with Mr Evans' stress levels for several days.

Watson said the drug crisis had taken a huge toll on Evans.

"I just think he's completely and utterly burnt out,'' Watson said.

"From what I now know to be true, David has been struggling with his health for some time - he's exhausted.

David Evans has stood down as Essendon chairman.

Bombers' night of crisis

"He's been under enormous strain and stress going back five months now.

"This was something he would work on full-time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week if necessary and he's maintained that.''

AFL boss Andrew Demetriou said Evans had been a "great chairman" and said he wasn't shocked by yesterday's news.

"I'd obviously spoken to David on a number of occasions. He's made a decision that's taken into account his family, his professional career and obviously he's personal well-being and so we respect that."

GWS Coach, Kevin Sheedy has thrown his support behind former Essendon chairman, David Evans. Describing him as a 'fantastic' person, Sheedy concedes he had a tough time at the club.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said he hoped Evans was not lost to football.

"He's gone through some hard circumstances that we all know at the moment but he's always put the club first. He's been a wonderful president, a wonderful person," McGuire said on Game Day.

An emotional Hird was referring to Mr Evans at his post-match press conference on Friday night when he referred to the doping investigation "affecting people's lives permanently".

Hird left Mr Evans' side in the medical room to attend the press conference.

Drugs saga will affect lives: Hird

Former Essendon player Tim Watson says he is not completely shocked by chairman David Evans' resignation.

"It has got to the point that, if it's not over very quickly, it's going to affect people's lives permanently," Hird said.

Hird on Saturday night did not want to comment on his friend's resignation.

However, others paid tribute to Mr Evans.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said Mr Evans had shown outstanding leadership and tremendous personal courage through a confronting, difficult period.

Hird, Evans now at loggerheads

Essendon's iterim CEO Ray Gunston leaves James Hird's house. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

"David has paid a heavy personal toll with the interruption to his family and business life, with his commitment and love for his club, and the AFL applauds his efforts to make the welfare of Essendon's players his absolute priority throughout this difficult time and the AFL wishes him the very best as he steps back into private life," he said.

Essendon interim chief executive Ray Gunston said: "It is with great regret that the Essendon Football Club board has accepted the resignation of David Evans."

Essendon great Tim Watson said the players especially would miss Mr Evans.

"They see him as an outstanding leader and he's been fantastic through this whole episode," he said.

Evans says Hird a friend for life

Former Essendon player Mark McVeigh denies players at the embattled club were involved in a secret drug trial as part of their 2012 supplements program.

"They've not only lost the club president, they've lost a friend and a real ally."

Mr Evans had been under increased pressure since the Herald Sun on Thursday revealed differing versions of a telephone call he had with Mr Demetriou at Mr Evans' home on February 4, the night before the Bombers announced they wanted an investigation into the drug-taking claims.

On Friday, the Herald Sun revealed the differences between Mr Evans and Hird.

Mr Demetriou again denied he had tipped off Essendon about the then-impending Australian Crime Commission report into drugs in sport and that Essendon was the club named in the report.

Mr Demetriou, who is to fly to America on Sunday for a fact-finding mission, said the AFL would be taking legal action against the Herald Sun over its reporting of the situation.

In recent days, Mr Demetriou said he couldn't have tipped off Essendon because he didn't know which club was in ASADA's sights.

He said the call with Mr Evans did not include discussion about Essendon being the club named in the ACC report.

"He rang me to see if I knew any more and I said, 'I don't know any more David, I don't know who the club is'," Mr Demetriou said.

"I returned his phone call at 9pm that night.

"To say that I rang David Evans that night and said, 'I'm tipping you off that ASADA's about to investigate you' ... it simply didn't happen."

- with Michael Warner 


"I am announcing tonight my resignation from the Essendon Football Club board, effective immediately.

I appreciate very much that this will cause some consternation amongst the Essendon family.

However, I strongly believe that the best thing for the Club at this stage is for a new Chairperson in order to see through the next phase of this challenging and difficult time for our club.

The ASADA report is close to finalisation, and I believe that I have put the interests of the players and their families first in this process, and I have been guided by my duty of care to them and to the Club throughout the last 5 months.

I remain extremely hopeful that our players will be treated with fairness and dignity through the next stage, and I do trust the process that we have been subject to.

Leadership is tough at times and I have tried to lead with fairness and integrity and at the same time acknowledging responsibility to make the right decisions. I am confident that this decision is one of those.

My involvement, and indeed my family's involvement over many years at both Essendon and the AFL have given me great strength during the last 5 months, because many of the people that I deal with are close friends. 

This has given me great insight and assisted in making tough decisions, but those decisions now may be seen to be clouded by those relationships or be seen as a conflict, and I am not prepared to have my decisions reflect poorly on the Club either now or in future. 

It is also for slightly selfish but important reasons. I have significant responsibilities to the 100 people who work at my firm.

They have stepped up to the plate admirably and very capably and the business is thriving but it is important that I return, and this means I cannot give to Essendon what it needs over the coming months.

My business is 6 years old, and I have a clear vision of its future, and I need to get back to the business to prosecute that vision.

What is happening at our club right now is a tragedy, but I know that it will survive. I believe in the Essendon Football club and its people and it will get through this crisis with people like Paul Little, James Hird and Ray Gunston as its leaders.

The Essendon Football Club is a great institution that is bigger than all of us, and survives and thrives because of the passion of our members and supporters, and the commitment of our players and our staff.

Those of us lucky enough to serve the club must always keep in mind that we owe the club our best, not the other way around.

I would like to acknowledge the players who have been my inspiration over the last few months. 

They have displayed much integrity, honesty and passion for their club. They have such a desire to play for each other.  

I would also like to acknowledge the players parents.  I have come to know these people and understand they have been through a lot. I thank them for their trust in me and I promise I will continue to watch over their boys in the coming months. 

I urge all involved in the next stage of this process to put the interest of the players first and foremost.

I will remain a loyal servant to this great club and will be available to help the club through the final stages of the investigation. 

This decision is also, finally, about my family, whose support has been unwavering, but who have also had to bear much of the stress of the last 5 months. 

This process has taken its toll on me, and on those around me, and I owe it to them to hand over now for the next phase. 

I will make no further comment until further notice."  


The AFL tonight said it wished to acknowledge the service of Essendon Chairman David Evans, who this evening announced his resignation from his role.

AFL Chief Executive Andrew Demetriou said that Mr Evans had shown outstanding leadership and tremendous personal courage through a confronting, difficult period for his club and the wider game and had made a significant contribution to the Essendon Football Club.

''Essendon has been faced with one of the great challenges in the history of a proud establishment club in our competition and David has led the way over the last six months to guide the welfare of his player group and the wider club,'' Mr Demetriou said.

"These are difficult and complex matters that have been investigated, through the ASADA enquiry, and at all times David has sought to discover the facts, act in the best interests of all those under him at the club and to provide leadership on a challenging issue.''

Mr Demetriou said members and supporters of Essendon, as well as the wider football family, should acknowledge his wider work in expanding the club's base to its new home at Tullamarine and guiding the rebuild of the club to its current position entrenched in the top four.

''David has paid a heavy personal toll with the interruption to his family and business life, with his commitment and love for his club, and the AFL applauds his efforts to make the welfare of Essendon's players his absolute priority throughout this difficult time and the AFL wishes him the very best as he steps back into private life,'' he said.


It is with great regret that the Essendon Football Club Board has accepted the resignation of David Evans.

David joined the Board in 2006, and has been Chairman since 2009.  

While his successes in leading the club are many, it will be the courage and fortitude of his leadership over the last 5 months that will be remembered.

He has led a strategy that has put the interests of our players and their families first in the AFL and ASADA investigation, called the Ziggy Switkoski report which has already led to significant change, and been the face of the club during its most difficult of times.

The Board will be meeting over the coming days to make a new appointment.

No further comment will be made.

20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

North Korean kids call US 'bastards'

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 27 Juli 2013 | 20.01

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watches over 100,000 people dance, perform in mass games on eve of the 60th anniversary of Korean War end. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

North Korean children say learning about the Korean War helps them deepen their hatred of the U.S. ahead of the 60th anniversary of the war's end. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

A PINT-SIZED North Korean child looks into the camera and says with a smile: "I feel great because we beat down the American bastards".

Another child stares into the camera and says, with great solemnity, "it will solidify our generation's hatred of the American bastards so we can taken revenge on them in the future".

As North Korea prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean war, its people are speaking out in support of leader Kim Jong-un, his father and his grandfather, Kim il-Sung who began the conflict.

Schoolchildren have been gathering in the capital, Pyongyang, to mark the war's anniversary, known as the "Day of victory in the great fatherland liberation war".

For North Korea, the Korean War that broke out on June 25, 1950 never really ended, and the Americans, familiarly and routinely referred to as "the American bastards" or "the Yankee imperialists", remain Enemy No. 1.

The indoctrination starts in school, where students are taught to repeat the phrases.

A maths teacher, filmed by Reuters, also has her piece to say about the US: "Our leaders single-handedly defeated the American bastards who boasted about their great strength, so our students deeply understand that our leader is the greatest in the world and the strongest and has iron will."

Kim Jong-un will participate in war commemoration ceremonies today.

Scenes of patriotism in North Korea over the last few days have included the visits by relatives to the graves of their family members who died in the Korean war.

"The survivors of the war heroes here can beat the Americans to death on our own," said Kim Bu-ok, who fell to her knees in tears when she approached her father's grave.

"We can crush those bastards no matter how hard they try, and I want the world to know this. As soon as those Americans even stick up their heads, we will stomp them to dust."

20.01 | 0 komentar | Read More Techie Blogger Techie Blogger