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Bushfire season underway in Victoria

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January 15, 2019 by admin

The Victorian bushfire season officially begins this week, amid warnings the state faces worse conditions than earlier this year.

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Premier John Brumby has urged Victorians in fire-prone areas to keep clearing debris from their properties to make their homes as fireproof as possible.

“The thing about fire preparation is it’s not just done in one day or one week, this is something that people have got to work on right up to Christmas and right through January,” he said.

Mr Brumby says Victorians face a hotter and more dangerous summer than they encountered last summer.

“The start of the fire season is a call to action for all Victorians to be prepared and to be on alert,” he said.

“Fire experts predict that this season could bring conditions every bit as bad, if not worse, than the season we’ve just experienced.”

Meanwhile the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfires has heard the state’s police have been re-trained in the fundamentals of emergency management.

SBS Reporter Rachel Baker reports the state’s top police officer says he’s discovered that there was confusion among members of his force.

“What is command, what is control and what is co-ordination? And as I said in my introduction, unless you have that straight, everything that flows from there very quickly becomes confused and confusing”, says Police Chief Simon Overland.

Officers have already received two-day refresher courses on the meaning of the terms.

This season about 30 commercial radio stations across Victoria have joined the ABC and Sky Television as official broadcasters of bushfire and other emergency warnings.

Mr Brumby said this means that warnings will not only go out across country Victoria but it will also reach a new and younger audience who are not necessarily tuned to the ABC.

“Everywhere in Victoria is a fire risk this season and I urge all Victorians, if you have not done so already, to identify your fire risk, prepare a Bushfire Survival Plan and get involved in community fire preparation activities,” he said.

A new “catastrophic” warning was added to a new national fire code to be used Australia-wide.

Under the new six-stage rating system, fire danger starts at low to moderate and runs through to severe and extreme with the highest code red warning being catastrophic.

Victorian government schools and children’s services in high-risk bushfire areas will close on days declared a catastrophic Code Red fire danger rating.

Of the 52 towns and communities designated as being most at risk, more than 30 are in the Otway, Dandenong and Macedon Ranges.

Concern is mounting over the townships on the fringes of the densely-forested Otways which include popular holiday resorts such as Torquay, Lorne and Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road.

On February 16, 1983, the day of the Ash Wednesday fires that tore through the Otways, 75 people died in that region and neighbouring South Australia.

The Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfires has heard Victorian police have been re-trained in the fundamentals of emergency management.

The Police Chief Commissioner also says communication will always be a difficult area – and that he expects to receive wrong information in future disasters.


Dozens feared dead in quake, tsunami

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January 15, 2019 by admin

At least two dozen people are feared dead in Samoa and American Samoa and many more – including Australians – have been hurt, after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the Pacific island nations.

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More than a dozen people are feared dead in Samoa, including at least three children, while at least 14 people were reported killed in American Samoa.

The Red Cross and media reports put the death toll at at least 28, AFP reported, while the ABC said it could be as high as 40.

“We are on our way to the south coast where or people have told us of 11 deaths and we heard on the radio of another three,” said Talutala Mauala, the secretary general of the Red Cross in Samoa.

DFAT hotline for those concerned about relatives: 1300 555 135

“There have also been some injuries. We won’t know the full extent of the damage until we get there and see for ourselves.”

The federal government says a number of Australians have been injured in Samoa.

“The early reports don’t suggest that any of them are very serious, but they are in hospital,” parliamentary secretary for international development assistance Bob McMullan told Sky News.

The 8.3 magnitude quake struck at 6.48am Tuesday local time (0348 Wednesday AEST) midway between the two island nations.

It triggered a tsunami warning for the South Pacific region, from American Samoa to New Zealand, although Australia was excluded. The warning was later cancelled.

Dozens hurt, others missing

Police in Samoa report five people dead while Tupua Tamasese Hospital in the capital of Apia told local radio the tsunami had killed at least three people, two believed to be children – and more than 50 are injured.

Keni Lesa, editor of the Samoa Observer newspaper, says the toll has risen to more than a dozen, with many children among the dead.

“The numbers keep going up but from what I’ve heard there are 14, maybe up to 20 people dead and several children, three and probably more,” Mr Lesa said.

“There are dozens with injuries and even more missing.

“It’s a real mess and we’re very worried at this stage that the numbers are far higher.”

More people are believed to have died in nearby American Samoa, the US National Park Service reports.

“I can confirm there is damage, I can confirm there are deaths and I can confirm there are casualties,” a spokeswoman for the service said by phone.

Thousands left homeless

“I cannot say any more at the moment.”

Officials in American Samoa say at least 14 people were killed there when the tsunami swept ashore.

Mase Akapo, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, says the deaths occurred in four different villages on the main island of Tutuila, with six in the western area of Leone.

There were reports of thousands of people left homeless in American Samoa.

Officials on Samoa said an undetermined number of people had been killed or injured.

A member of the National Disaster Management committee said the casualties occurred in the village of Talamoa, AP reported.

Samoan police have confirmed that villages on the country’s southern coast had been hardest hit.

Entire villages levelled

Worst affected was the island of Upolu, where at least two villages were flattened.

Associated Press reporter Keen Elsa said three or four villages on the popular tourist coast near the southern town of Lalomanu on Samoa’s main island of Upolu had been “wiped out” by waves.

Keni said he had visited the town’s main hospital where “there are bodies everywhere,” including at least one child.

A resident of one of the villages, Theresa Falele Dussey, told Radio New Zealand her house has been destroyed by the tsunami, as were houses and cars in a neighbouring village.

She has been evacuated to Mt Vaea near Apia. “We just thanking God that we’re alive,” she said.

New Zealand tourist Graeme Ansell said the beach village of Faofao on Upolu Island was levelled.

“It was very quick. The whole village has been wiped out,” Ansell told National Radio from a hill near Samoa’s capital, Apia.

“There’s not a building standing. We’ve all clambered up hills, and one of our party has a broken leg. There will be people in a great lot of need ’round here.”

The powerful quake jolted people awake.

‘Trees, houses shaking’

In Apia, families reported shaking that lasted for up to three minutes.

“It was pretty strong; it was long and lasted at least two minutes,” one resident told local radio.

“It’s the strongest I have felt, and we ran outside. You could see all the trees and houses were shaking,” he said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre put the quake’s magnitude at 8.3 while the US Geological Service put it at 8.0.

The US Geological Service said the quake struck 35km below the ocean floor, 190km from American Samoa and 200km from Samoa.

Aftershocks are continuing to jolt the two nations, as well as Tonga’s northern tourist islands of Vava’u.

Tsunami warning cancelled

New Zealand had been expected to be hit by a one-metre high wave about 10am local time (0700 AEST), however the alert has since been cancelled after waves reached just 40cm.

A 1.5-metre tsunami wave swept into the American Samoa capital Pago Pago shortly after the earthquake, sending sea water surging inland about 100 metres before receding, leaving some cars stuck in mud.

Electricity outages were reported and telephone lines were jammed.

In Fagatogo, water reached the waterfront town’s meeting field and covered portions of the main highway, which also was plagued by rock slides.

Mr McMullan said while a number of Australians had been injured it appeared to be not as bad as it may have been.

“My advice is that the Australians are stable,” he said.

“All of them have been able to contact their own families directly and none of them have said to the high commission they need any special extra assistance.”


No news on Liberals as Turnbull leaves

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January 15, 2019 by admin

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has reportedly left Parliament House after a tense meeting with possible challenger Joe Hockey, asking press to leave himself and wife Lucy alone.

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Turnbull’s wife drove him from the premises in their grey BMW, amid furious speculation by senior political journlaists on Twitter over whether or not he would be coming back as head of the coalition.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey left the private meeting shortly before the embattled leader, who despite a ferocious mutiny in his ranks had appeared relaxed and smiling over the weekend.

Earlier, Liberal powerbroker Nick Minchin and senior Liberals Christopher Pyne, Ian Macfarlane and Eric Abetz were in discussions with Turnbull morning ahead of tomorrow’s Liberal leadership showdown.

Tony Abbott, the only declared challenger, says he is not overly confident of his chances in a leadership ballot on Tuesday, frontrunner Joe Hockey has yet to make up his mind, while Kevin Andrews won’t rule out another tilt at the top job.

Mr Turnbull is facing a second leadership spill in less than a week, as the Senate continues debating Labor’s carbon pollution reduction scheme.

Mr Abbott arrived at Parliament House on Monday saying he was not “over-confident” he had the numbers.

“I’m still talking patiently and carefully to all of my colleagues,” he told reporters.

Mitch Fifield, one of more than a dozen Liberal MPs to resign from the frontbench or other senior positions last week, said the Liberals had already moved on from Mr Turnbull.

“On Tuesday we will have a new leader of the party,” he said, while backing Mr Hockey as the replacement.

An opinion poll, published on Monday, shows the opposition’s treasury spokesman has the edge over Mr Turnbull with voters.

At least two Liberals, chief climate change negotiator Ian Macfarlane and senator Gary Humphries, declared they were in Mr Turnbull’s corner.

And former opposition leader John Hewson, rolled as party leader in 1994, said the moves against Mr Turnbull were both a tragedy and gross disloyalty.

He also warned Mr Hockey that he risked ending his political career “early” if he accepted the leadership.

But Howard government foreign minister Alexander Downer said he thought Mr Hockey would be a good choice.

“He was a very good minister and handled some difficult issues. He’s a charming guy as you can see just from watching him on television, a very entertaining and amusing person, a very decent person,” Mr Downer told Fairfax Radio.

“I think if he does become the leader he would be a very interesting choice.”

Meanwhile, the Senate has begun what could be a marathon sitting as it considers more than 200 amendments to Labor’s legislation.

Rebel coalition senators will attempt to refer the legislation to a Senate committee, delaying any final vote until February.

A new Nielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers gives gives Mr Hockey a four percentage point lead over Mr Turnbull — 36 per cent to 32 per cent, with former frontbencher Tony Abbott on 20 per

cent.

The poll was taken on Friday and Saturday as the Coalition faced huge divisions over emissions trading, and is the fifth consecutive Nielsen poll in which Mr Hockey is the preferred Coalition leader.

Meanwhile, the latest Newspoll in The Australian newspaper shows Mr Turnbull’s preferred prime minister rating has fallen a massive eight percentage points in the past fortnight to a record low of 14 per cent.

The figure compares with Kevin Rudd’s preferred prime minister rating of 65 per cent.

Mr Hockey got 33 per cent of the vote when those surveyed were asked who was the best person to lead the Liberals, while Mr Turnbull got 30 per cent, followed by Tony Abbott on 19 per cent.


Carr garaged as Labor team unveiled

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September 18, 2019 by admin

Former foreign minister Bob Carr is expected to resign within days, after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten unveiled a shadow frontbench without the former NSW premier.

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Deputy leader Tanya Plibersek will take on the foreign affairs and international aid portfolio in a Labor frontbench that combines experienced hands with some of the party’s rising stars.

Mr Shorten said he had spoken with Senator Carr last week, but declined to comment further.

“I can’t add anything more to what he’s said on the record,” the opposition leader said.

Senator Carr was recruited by former prime minister Julia Gillard 18 months ago to fill a vacancy triggered by the retirement of minister Mark Arbib.

The NSW Labor administrative committee is expected to elect former lower house MP Deb O’Neill to fill the casual vacancy, which will then require the endorsement of a joint sitting of both houses of the NSW state parliament.

Ms O’Neill could be endorsed in time for the first post-election sitting of the federal parliament on November 12.

Senator Carr, who has kept a low profile for the past month, was re-elected at the September election for a six-year term starting on July 1 next year and will technically need to resign both the current term and the next.

Mr Shorten described his new team as “energetic and diverse”, with women comprising almost half the frontbench.

Chris Bowen has retained the treasury portfolio, saying he has “unfinished business”.

But former finance minister Penny Wong has moved to trade and investment and Tony Burke, the opposition’s manager of business, has been appointed finance spokesman.

Deputy Senate leader and former communications minister Stephen Conroy takes on defence.

Leadership runner-up Anthony Albanese kept his preferred role as transport and infrastructure spokesman, adding tourism to his responsibilities.

Mr Shorten added science and small business to his duties in a bid to make both areas a focus for Labor over the term.

Among the more significant promotions were Catherine King (health), Shayne Neumann (indigenous) and Andrew Leigh (assistant treasury).

In the wake of former minister Nicola Roxon describing Kevin Rudd as a “bastard” ousted in an act of “political bastardry”, Mr Shorten called for an end to disparaging comments.

“The Labor party needs to focus on the future,” he said.

“We’ve got a great and energetic team, it reflects values and diversity and experience.”

One of the priorities for the shadow cabinet, which meets in Canberra on Monday afternoon, will be Labor’s stance on coalition legislation to abolish the carbon tax.

Mr Shorten said Labor would stick to the principle of an internationally-linked price on carbon as the best way to address climate change.

“We don’t change our views, we are not a weather vane on climate change,” he said.

“In terms of our specific policies, we will work on them in the lead up to the next election.”

Labor went to the election having promised to “terminate” the carbon tax and bring in an emissions trading scheme from July 1, 2014.

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson criticised the appointment of South Australian senator Don Farrell as his shadow counterpart, who will also have responsibility on the Labor side for the centenary of ANZAC in 2015.

Senator Farrell lost his seat at the recent federal election, so his term expires at the end of June – a year before the centenary’s celebration.

“The appointment of Senator Farrell … is an extraordinary decision which is more about political convenience than competence and conviction,” Senator Ronaldson said in a statement.

“Australia’s veterans deserve better than this.”


Australia need to rediscover fighting spirit: Postecoglou

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September 18, 2019 by admin

 

In a strongly-worded newspaper column that will be seen as a manifesto for turning the national team around before next year’s World Cup finals, Postecoglou said a whole new approach was required both inside and outside the squad.

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Successive 6-0 defeats in friendlies against Brazil and France resulted in German Holger Osieck being summarily dismissed as coach in Paris last weekend and prompted a wave of soul-searching in the local media.

“The fallout from two heavy defeats and national coach Holger Osieck losing his job has ignited some desperately needed and long overdue passion inside and outside the camp,” Postecoglou wrote in Friday’s Sydney Morning Herald

“The reason we are in this position is that we have lost sight of what our national team represents and what its role in our game is,” the 48-year-old added.

“I have always believed that language is a very powerful tool and for a long time the language that we hear about the Socceroos has methodically stripped away any form of honour and prestige that a national team should represent.

“First and foremost the team belongs to the country itself and its fans. It does not belong to any coach, player or administrator. Any representation within the team and management should be seen as privilege not a right.

“For a long time the Socceroos have stood for courage and competitive nature in the face of adversity.

“But sadly this is no longer the case. What has happened over the past six or seven years is that self-interest, self-preservation and survival mechanisms have ensured that we no longer see ourselves as true Australian sportsmen.

“I have found it frustrating and infuriating to continually hear that we are not that good. That our expectations are too high. That we can’t compete with the big countries.

“The sporting public don’t want to hear that we must accept our fate. The national team is there to sell hope, not to dampen dreams.”

Postecoglou, the coach of A-League side Melbourne Victory, firmed as the favourite to succeed Osieck on Thursday when he said Football Federation Australia (FFA) had approached his club about his availability.

FFA chairman Frank Lowy said on Tuesday that an Australian would be appointed to the job and that Postecoglou was one of three candidates with Graham Arnold and Tony Popovic.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)


‘Populist’ reporting costs Hinch $100,000

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September 18, 2019 by admin

Derryn Hinch expected to be thrown back in jail for his latest contempt of court.

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Instead he walked away with a $100,000 fine and a scathing character assessment in which he was labelled self-opinionated and grossly irresponsible.

Victorian Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kaye opted not to jail Hinch, but slammed the veteran broadcaster for what he described as a calculated attempt to undermine the justice system.

It is Hinch’s sixth conviction for contempt of court or related offences, a record which Justice Kaye said was disgraceful.

Hinch admits the huge fine will “hurt like hell” and apologised for offending the court, but has vowed to continue campaigning against sex offenders, this time legally.

Hinch was found guilty of contempt for breaching a suppression order made by Justice Geoffrey Nettle, when he published details on his blog about Adrian Ernest Bayley, including that he was on bail and parole when he murdered Melbourne woman Jill Meagher.

Justice Kaye said while he accepted the 69-year-old regretted what he had done, it was only because he found himself in very serious trouble and Hinch was not genuinely remorseful.

“Your conduct was grossly irresponsible,” Justice Kaye told Hinch.

“Although you thought you knew better than Justice Nettle, clearly you did not.

“You were not aware of critical facts.

“At your age and with your experience you should have been setting an example of responsible journalism.

“It might be tempting, but wrong, to endeavour to be populist by breaking the law.

“There are many responsible, sensible journalists who are able to achieve the same ends by remaining within the confines of the law.

“It is well nigh time you learnt to do so also.”

Hinch had apologised to the court for his offending.

Justice Kaye accepted that would have been a difficult step for such a “self-opinionated person” who “finds it very difficult to publicly acknowledge that anything you have done is wrong”.

But he said Hinch’s comments to the media about being a “whipping boy” and “scapegoat” were unsubstantiated and demonstrated his lack of remorse.

Hinch said his apology had been legitimate.

“I made a sincere apology to the court, I was in contempt of court, I committed an offence, contempt of court, that offended the court and for that I am sorry,” he told reporters outside court on Friday.

He promised to continue to campaigning for transparency in the Victorian legal system regarding sex offenders, a cause he has previously been jailed for.

“I have to find legal ways that I can continue campaigning the way that I have,” he said.

When asked if he still regarded himself as a scapegoat, Hinch replied: “I wouldn’t use the word scapegoat because it’s too expensive.”

Justice Kaye convicted Hinch of contempt of court and ordered him to pay the $100,000 within 90 days or face a 50-day stint in jail.

The court heard the former newspaper editor had a net value of $1.18 million and an annual income of $212,000.


Discarded Cats find new AFL homes

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September 18, 2019 by admin

Geelong premiership castaways Paul Chapman and James Podsiadly were thrown AFL lifelines as decorated Nick Dal Santo quit St Kilda on the busiest day yet of the trade period.

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Chapman joined Essendon and Podsiadly agreed to move to the Adelaide Crows, both on two-year deals.

The pair, both aged 32, were delisted by Geelong at season’s end, their moves coming as the AFL’s trade period clicked into high gear on Friday after idling for week.

Dal Santo left the Saints for North Melbourne, ruckman Shane Mumford’s move from Sydney to Greater Western Sydney was ratified, Melbourne gave the Giants a coveted draft pick in return for precocious talent Dom Tyson and Adelaide traded Bernie Vince to the Demons.

Melbourne traded their prized second pick at November’s national draft to GWS in return for Tyson, a highly rated 20-year-old midfielder originally selected at No.3 in the 2011 draft.

The Demons also traded their draft picks 20 and 72 in return for Dyson and the Giants’ picks nine and 53.

“We have been able to bring in a class midfielder in Tyson, and improve our second draft selection,” Melbourne’s football manager Josh Mahoney said in a statement.

Adelaide sent their 2009 club champion Vince to the Demons for draft pick 23, while ex-Geelong stalwart Chapman signed a two-year contract to re-unite with his former coach Mark Thompson at Essendon in a free agency deal.

And his former teammate Podsiadly will also re-unite with a former assistant coach, agreeing to a two-year contract with the Brenton Sanderson-coached Crows.

Chapman and Podsiadly will extend their careers until they’re 34, with Podsiadly adamant he had plenty of top-level footy remaining.

“From a physical and mental point of view, I’m in great shape and very motivated,” he said in a statement.

The Giants on Friday also received ex-Swan ruckman Mumford for pick 35, while St Kilda’s Dal Santo ended months of speculation about his future by joining the Kangaroos as a restricted free agent.

The 29-year-old signed a three-year deal with North, with St Kilda expecting a second-round draft pick for the three-time All Australian.

“We are thrilled to have finally landed him,” North’s general manager of list and player personnel Cameron Joyce said.

The AFL also released compensation draft picks for free agents, with Collingwood getting selection 11 for Dale Thomas, who transferred to Carlton.

Hawthorn received pick 19 for losing megastar Lance Franklin to Sydney while Melbourne were handed pick 23 for Fremantle-bound Colin Sylvia. The Demons immediately gave up that selection for Adelaide’s Vince.

The Saints were given pick 25 for Dal Santo while Carlton received nothing, deemed to have broken even with the arrival of Thomas and the loss of Eddie Betts to the Crows.


Lorenzo in last stand against Marquez charge

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September 18, 2019 by admin

Victory for Honda rider Marquez at Phillip Island’s picturesque seaside circuit combined with anything worse than second place for Lorenzo will make the 20-year-old the youngest world champion with two races to spare.

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Title-holder Lorenzo, however, fancies his chances on an exhilarating track where the Yamaha rider has been quick, if not victorious, in five premier class appearances.

Two-time world champion Casey Stoner shut out all contenders with a record reign of six straight wins at his home grand prix, but Lorenzo came closest last year and in 2010.

The Spaniard’s watchful runner-up finish was enough for him to seal his second MotoGP title last year, and with Stoner retired, the affable Spaniard might have believed he was on the brink of a sustained period of dominance.

Enter 20-year-old Marquez, whose impact in his first season has raised comparisons with the brash arrival of Italian great Valentino Rossi over a decade ago.

Despite pressure building at the business end of the season, Marquez has shown ice in his veins, and struck a psychological blow against Lorenzo by passing the 26-year-old with 11 laps remaining at Sepang last week.

Content to take the points, Marquez sat back to finish second and allow team mate Dani Pedrosa the win in Malaysia, setting up what could be a decisive battle with Lorenzo Down Under.

A defiant Lorenzo said he would fight for the title to the end this week and laid a good marker on Friday by topping the time sheets in free practice, while Marquez and Pedrosa both had stumbles in brilliant sunshine at Phillip Island.

Lorenzo’s fastest lap of one minute 28.961 seconds in the second session was 0.294 seconds better than Marquez’s quickest on new tarmac laid at the circuit.

“I feel that here we are much more competitive than in Malaysia,” Lorenzo said.

“In general, every step we make with the bike works so little by little we have improved and been faster.”

Marquez came off just six minutes into the second session when his back wheel slipped. He appeared to land heavily but returned to the pits and emerged 20 minutes later for another run.

Pedrosa, who posted the fourth fastest lap behind Alvaro Bautista, went off the track at turn two during the second session with a loose engine mounting bolt.

Marquez will be out to take pole position for the ninth time this season in Saturday’s qualifying.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)


McIlroy in contention but rues sloppy start in Korea

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August 17, 2019 by admin

“I’m driving the ball very well and for the most part my iron play is pretty good, but I definitely missed a few opportunities out there,” the Northern Irishman, who capped a brilliant 2012 with a second major win, told the OneAsia Tour.

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“I definitely could have been a few shots better, but I’m in a good position going into the weekend and that’s all you can ask for.”

South Korea’s Hong Soon-sang was the clubhouse leader midway through Friday’s second round after firing a bogey-free 68 for a five-under total.

That mark looked way beyond the 24-year-old McIlory, who started his round on the 10th and made four bogeys in five holes from the 12th to slip well down the field.

However, McIlroy displayed all the talent that helped him claim the world number one ranking last year as he rallied with five birdies over his remaining 10 holes to leave him handily placed heading into the weekend.

A dropped shot on his last was the only disappointing aspect of his charge back up the field.

“There was a few sloppy shots, or sloppily played holes. I made three (consecutive) bogeys on the back nine which wasn’t great but most of the other stuff was actually pretty solid,” the former U.S. Open and U.S. PGA Champion said.

“After that stretch today on the back nine, I turned it around and played the last 10 holes in four-under, so it was a pretty good effort. I was a little disappointed to bogey the last there, but it was good for the most part.”

McIlroy is back in action following a four-week break and explained what was required to get back in the winner’s circle.

“Just to keep playing the way I am, stay patient,” he said. “I don’t need to go out there and be overly aggressive, but I just want to get myself into a good position for Sunday if possible.”

($1 = 1063.5250 won)

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O’Brien)


Analysis – Broke Wallabies need to beat All Blacks

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August 17, 2019 by admin

It’s no longer just about salvaging pride from a season of massive underachievement, including the British and Irish Lions series loss and crushing defeats to New Zealand in the first two Bledisloe fixtures.

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For the Wallabies, it’s now about the money.

If you believe Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver, Australian rugby is on the verge of going belly up. He has been crying poor for some time and now he has player wages firmly in his sights.

Pulver, a multimillionaire with a leaning towards performance-based paid workforces, has been in talks with the players’ union about ditching match payments of $14,000 a test, win, lose or draw.

That the union has countenanced such a proposal without immediately flagging the prospect of a player strike is an indication of just how weak the Wallabies players’ bargaining position has become.

Australia has won two World Cups but the last of those was in 1999 and now the players’ lot is a simple case of losers having no leverage.

It’s against this backdrop that the Wallabies take on the world’s best team on Saturday under the closed roof of the Otago Stadium in Dunedin.

Will the prospect of taking what could amount to a $100,000 per season hit to the wallet finally inspire the Wallabies to do the seemingly impossible and beat one of the finest All Blacks sides of recent times? Just maybe.

Although backing the Wallabies on 2013 form is only for true believers, there remains a glimmer of realistic hope with the late injury withdrawals on Friday of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and winger Corey Jane.

The pair has been replaced by Sam Cane at flanker and Charles Piutau on the wing, both solid players but not with the same pedigree as McCaw and Jane.

The Wallabies, meanwhile, have not been without injury woes of their own but who is to say injury-enforced changes will not finally produce a winning combination against the world champions?

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Peter Betham replacing Joe Tomane on the wing is a case in point. New Zealand-born Betham poses more questions on attack than Tomane and he could make life interesting for All Blacks centre Ben Smith, a winger-fullback who has been selected out of position to replace the sabbatical-bound Conrad Smith.

Betham and fullback Israel Folau combining in attack with clever running lines and switches could certainly exploit Smith’s inexperience.

Wallaby inside centre Christian Lealiifano is also out injured and replaced by Matt Toomua. Again, like Betham, this could have been the right selection anyway as Lealiifano, while steady and tradesman-like, has not played with any great ambition.

He has kicked goals and made tackles, but has not troubled the defensive line much and should have been replaced, injured or not.

And there’s also the Quade Cooper factor. The enigmatic and at times error-prone flyhalf is well overdue a decent game against the All Blacks. He’s too good a player to keep underperforming against them.

However, as with all trans-Tasman battles, it’ll come down to the forwards and more than likely the front rows.

That’s where the All Blacks have the edge with Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu and Charlie Faumuina up against Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore and James Slipper.

But with Saia Fainga’a, Benn Robinson, and Sekope Kepu on the bench, there may be a slender advantage to the Wallabies later in the game against New Zealand’s front row back-up of Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett and Ben Franks.

The bookmakers have the Wallabies at long odds of 6-1, with even money for a 14.5 point handicap.

Given the players’ powerful financial motivations going into the test, a close result, say within 10 points, would not surprise.

A Wallabies win would be a massive financial windfall for punters but potentially also for the Australian players, who might suddenly find themselves with some leverage to say no to pay cuts.

Having said all that, though, we are talking about the beating the All Blacks at home.

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)


NSW bushfire victim’s ‘miracle’ escape

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August 17, 2019 by admin

“He was telling me to get out, crying,” she recalled on Friday.

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“I said ‘Look, I will do everything I can to be okay’.”

The mum-of-five made a terrifying escape from the bushfire that ripped through the lower Blue Mountains on Thursday, destroying scores of homes around Springwood, Yellow Rock and Winmalee.

She returned on Friday, embracing her daughter Amy as the pair took in the rubble and ashes that had been their home.

“It was just completely gutted, to the ground,” she told AAP.

“There was nothing left except a baby cup my daughter had when she was little.”

The family is now homeless and their belongings were uninsured, but Ms Hubbard said the fact she survived at all was a “miracle”.

She’d been napping when disaster struck – woken by a phone call from a worried colleague, wanting to know if she was near the fires.

“I hung up and said ‘I’ll be fine’,” she said.

“But when I went out and checked outside my veranda there was a tree alight and fire all around the backyard.”

She threw the pets in the car but was blocked by “a wall of smoke”.

Frantic, she approached strangers on the street and asked if she could seek shelter in their home.

“The sun was totally blocked out and houses were burning down to the ground all around us,” she said.

Without running water, the neighbours used buckets and wet towels – “whatever we could get our hands on” – to douse embers, knowing the house was their only refuge.

Then came a change in the wind.

This time, the sudden shift that so often turns deadly in bushfires cleared a path through the smoke instead.

“It was a miracle, actually,” Ms Hubbard said.

She plans to take her youngest kids back to the shell of their old house on Saturday, “to give them closure”.

Then the rebuilding begins.

“This will be a fresh start for us,” Ms Hubbard said.

“We’re a pretty resilient family.”

FRIDAY OCTOBER 18: THE DAY’S EVENTS

6.38pm RFS transport update

Mt Victoria Fire: The Main Western Railway may open or close on short notice. For latest information check 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/1C4XayW7TV #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

5.44 RFS property update

RFS confirms that an initial assessment of properties in Springwood and Winmalee has been carried out. So far, 81 properties destroyed and 37 damaged. 

5.27pm

Bargo sports ground – centre for aerial operations. pic.twitter.com/FhqLstKEph

— Barry O’Farrell (@barryofarrell) October 18, 2013

5.11pm

Linksview Road Fire, Springwood (Blue Mountains): Fire has been downgraded from Emergency Warning to Watch & Act. #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

4.44pm 

Centrelink is offering support for people whose homes have been lost. To contact Centerlink, phone 180 2266.

4.23pm RFS Emergency warning

Emergency Warning: Linksview Rd Fire, Springwood (Blue Mountainns) has progressed into the area around St Columbus.

4.16pm RFS downgrade 

Camden Valley Way fire, Leppington (Macarthur) fire has been downgraded to advice.

4.04 Tony Abbott gets briefing on Blue Mountains fires from Comissioner Fitzsimmons

PM Tony Abbott gets a briefing on Blue Mtns fires from #NSWRFS Commissioner #nswfires pic.twitter.com/iKHRn7kKBU

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

3.33pm Tony Abbott speaks to media

“This is a fire emergency that could go on for some time.”

3.33pm RFS Emergency Warning update

An Emergency Warning is in place for the area around Chapman Parade at Springwood due to fire activity.

3.24pm RFS update: Camden Valley Way

Camden Valley Way: Fire has been downgraded to Watch & Act

3.11pm

Emergency Warning – Camden Valley Way fire, Leppington (Camden) 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/XNRXhVmwUv Fire burning towards Bringelly Road #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

2.55pm

Hall Road Fire, Balmoral Village (Southern Highlands / Wollondilly): Fire has crossed railway line at Yanderra. Main Southern Railway closed

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

2.54pm RFS posts alert that crews are on the scene at a fire on camden Valley Way.

“Property directly threatened. Residents in the area should shelter in place.”

2.35pm NSW RFS updates emergency warnings

An Emergency Warning is in place for the Ruttleys Road Fire. There is a threat to properties in the area around Chain Valley Road. For more visit the RFS website.

2.30pm RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons speaks to media in the Blue Mountains with Premier Barry O’Farrell.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons described the conditions as “still a very hostile” and said 86,000 hectares of countryside was being burnt, including seven major fires covering 50,000 hectares.

2.18pm NSW RFS updates emergency warnings

An Emergency Warning is in place for the area around Chapman Parade at Springwood due to fire activity. For more visit the RFS website.

2.14pm

Ruttleys Rd (Wyong LGA): A Community Meeting will be held tonight at Swansea Workers Club, 9 Rawson St at 6pm. #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

2.11pm

 

evidence of the ferocity of the fires – Yellowrock pic.twitter.com/bKhUq0GC7i

— Barry O’Farrell (@barryofarrell) October 18, 2013

2.04pm

RFS confirms Students from Springwood High School are relocating to Faulconbridge Public School.

1.16pm Professor Ross Bradstock says the fires in the Blue Mountains are the worst since 1968.

 

“On average there has been one destructive fire a decade in the Blue Mountains, but these appear to be the most destructive fires since 1968, when over 100 houses were also lost in the same area,” says Professor Bradstock, Director of the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires.

“We are in a very dry situation in the greater Sydney region and when these landscapes dry severely, many of the natural barriers to fire are removed. In these sorts of dry conditions fires can burn for weeks until there is a significant change in the weather.”

Factbox: Bushfire resources across Australia

1.11pm NSW RFS updates emergency warnings

The RFS has reissued an emergency warning for a fire burning in  the Wyong area on the NSW central coast and urging residents to take shelter. Detailed information here.

An emergency warning is also in place in Springwood in the Blue Mountains. Full information on the warning here.

1.10pm Lake Macquarie Mayor Jodie Harrison said historic homes in the area have been destroyed.

“I’ve been advised … that it’s been confirmed that four houses in the heritage village of Catherine Hill Bay have been lost,” she told ABC radio.

“The historic jetty is currently on fire.”

She described “flames, a huge amount of smoke and lots of risk”.

1.02pm Students in Springwood to stay put at Springwood High School, RFS says.

Linksview Road, Springwood: UPDATE Students will now be remaining at Springwood High School and are not relocating. #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

12.58pm The NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service Inc releases a factsheet on how wildlife should be cared for during a bushfire.  

12.40pm Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the thoughts and prayers of every Australian are with the people who are suffering and affected by the bushfires in New South Wales.

12.37pm NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has taken this image of the bushfire damage seen from the skies.

pic.twitter.com/Fftmt7kKuh

— Barry O’Farrell (@barryofarrell) October 18, 2013

 

12.28pm As firefighters continue to battle fires across NSW, some residents in the Blue Mountains and on the Central Coast have told their stories of survival. Read the accounts here.

“My husband came up and said to me ‘Look, we’ve had all our windows blow up. The house is on fire. We’re not going to save it’.”

12.21pm A bushfire flares up in Springwood’s Chapman Parade.

EMERGENCY WARNING: Fire has flared up at Chapman Parade at Springwood. Emergency phone warning is being sent to people in the area #nswfire

— 702 ABC Sydney (@702sydney) October 18, 2013

 

12.00pm Strike teams are assembling in Springwood in the Blue Mountains.

#FRNSW strike teams are assembling @ Springwood. Crews will soon be tasked with mopping up & f/fighting ops pic.twitter.com/KmMItuduIX

— Fire & Rescue NSW (@FireRescueNSW) October 18, 2013

11.40am SBS World News Australia reporter, Nikki Canning is a resident of Springwood and is preparing as the fires creep closer to her house. She spoke with Naomi Selvaratnam. Hear the full interview below:

 

11.28am The view from the skies of the bushfires in the state’s south.

Bushfires south of Sydney blanketing NSW in smoke pic.twitter.com/UrcJd3AEha

— Luke Meehan (@lukasm) October 17, 2013

11.27am Low-income earners seeking disaster relief grants have been advised to call number below.

The Disaster Welfare Assistance Line (1800 018 444) is open for info about disaster relief grants for low income earners with no insurance.

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

11.14am: Evacuation centres are currently open in Springwood, Lithgow, Raymond Terrace, Swansea and Doyalson. Some others have closed, but this information is subject to change. Please click the link below to view full details. 

Status of evacuation centres: 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/NoV1MXIOO1 #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013

 11.03am: RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says he hopes a warmer change won’t be as severe as the conditions yesterday.

“Come Sunday and Monday, we can expect to see a return to warmer, drier conditions and a wind pattern dominating out of the north-west, albeit at this stage it’s not expected to be quite as strong and as gusty as we saw yesterday.”

10.53am: The Ruttleys Road fire near Wyong continues to burn out of control, the NSW Rural Fire Service has advised. More than 1500 hectares of scrub and bushland have been burnt so far. 

Ruttleys Road Fire: Reports that fire is impacting the township of Wyong are incorrect. The fire is burning approx 25km to the NE of Wyong

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013

10.31am Eighty national parks have been closed due to the bushfires.

The @OEHmedia has updated its list of national park closures. 8 parks affected by fire; 80 parks with closed areas. 南宁桑拿,南宁夜生活,/Hj0Mlm5jNs

— NSW Police (@nswpolice) October 17, 2013

10.20am In a statement, NSW Police say a report is being prepared for the Coroner to officially determine how the63-year-old man died while defending his home against a fire in the state’s north.

 

10.16am Sydney Area Health says two people are being treated at Concord Hospital with bushfire-related injuries.

9.49am NSW Premier O’Farrell confirms a 63-year-old man has died defending his home against a fire in Lake Munmorah in the state’s north.

9.46am Authorities say they’re preparing for the worst.

“We cannot rule out the very real prospect that some people may not have got out,” RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says.

9.39am NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has just received the latest briefing from the NSW RFS HQ.

@barryofarrell at #NSWRFS HQ for briefing on #nswfires pic.twitter.com/LFEEm9ZNYr

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013

 

9.26am Authorities are recommending people use the ‘Fires Near Me’ app to keep updated with bushfire warnings.

Download @NSWRFS mobile app ‘Fires Near Me’ for a list of fires & fire info. They also have a mobile site: 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/x4rP7C5s4m #nswfires

— NSW Police (@nswpolice) October 17, 2013

 

 

9.23am Greens MP Adam Bandt has defended suggesting the coalition government’s climate change strategy could lead to more devastating bushfires like those raging across NSW.

As fierce blazes threatened thousands of homes across the state, Mr Bandt accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of risking lives by taking the country “backwards” on efforts to combat global warming.

“Why Tony Abbott’s plan means more bushfires for Australia and more pics like this of Sydney,” he tweeted, alongside an image of bushfire smoke enveloping the city.

The remarks sparked a backlash online, but Mr Bandt denied it was an act of political opportunism.

“I don’t think that talking about protecting the Australian way of life and stopping fires from happening in the future is startling,” he said.

 

9.13am Salvation Army launches bushfire relief appeal

We have launched a Bushfire Relief Appeal to help those affected by #nswfires. If you’d like to donate, please visit 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/OVHvWPPDwz

— The Salvation Army (@salvos) October 17, 2013

 

9.03am Message of thanks for firefighters who have battled blazes throughout the night.

Thank you to the thousands of firefighters who have so bravely fought fires in difficult conds. #NSWRFS #nswfires pic.twitter.com/stDcOP0hIA

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013

9.01am NSW RFS warns residents and motorists to stay away from fire-affected areas. More traffic info here: 南宁桑拿网,www.livetraffic.com 

8.58am List of evacuation centres:

Wyong & Lake Macquarie

Doyalson RSL – Pacific Highway Doyalson

Swansea RSL – 5 Bridge Street Swansea

Swansea Workers Club – 9 Rawson Street Swansea

Lithgow & Blue Mountains

Lithgow Workers – 3-7 Tank Street Lithgow

Bilpin Community Centre – 2596 Bells Line Road Bilpin

Springwood Sports Club – 83 Macquarie Road Springwood

Kings Park Sports Complex – Newline Road Kings Road

Blackheath Community Centre – Great Western Highway

Port Stephens

Tomaree Sports Clubs – Nelson Bay Road Nelson Bay

Wests Mayfield – 32 Industrial Drive Mayfield

Wingecarribee/Wollondilly

Brethren Church – Wonga Road Picton

More info on NSW evacuation centres here.

8.47am Smoky haze over Sydney, with the smell of the bushfires described as “like an ashtray”. 

8.42am Areas in Sydney’s outer west reduced to ash in the wake of a bushfire.

Heartbreaking photos of the devastation in Sydney’s outer west.. @B105LSA pic.twitter.com/utjraqQBZ2

— Amelia Oberhardt (@ameliaoberhardt) October 17, 2013

8.34am The mayor of the Blue Mountains has praised the resilience of residents who lost their homes in Thursday’s bushfires.

“The worst factors came together at the worst time,” Mark Greenhill said.

“We spent the evening … comforting residents who had lost everything. This has been a very tough 24 hours for the community of the Blue Mountains.

“The resilience that they showed is awesome.”

 

8.28am NSW Paramedics urge caution after treating dozens of people for smoke inhalation last night.

NSW Paramedics treated dozens last night for breathing illness and w heavy smoke in the air,@asnsw urges continued caution today #nswfires

— Ambulance NSW (@ASNSW) October 17, 2013

8.07am Over 20,000 hectares scorched in Fire near Bells Line Rd, NSW RFS says.

Fire near Bells Line Rd has burnt approx 24,000 hectares. 140km of fire edge. #NSWRFS #nswfires pic.twitter.com/JUg48CeoCA

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013

8.05am Information on evacuation centres across NSW can be found here

 In pictures: Bushfires sweep across NSW

8.03am Dramatic images from the frontlines of the Springwood fire.

 

View of Springwood fire looking toward Winmalee from Warrimoo Oval #nswfires #nswrfs pic.twitter.com/ffIvaobke2

— dann weatherhead (@weatherhead) October 17, 2013

7.53am Factbox: Bushfire resources across Australia

7.50am  Numerous schools are closed on Friday.

A number of schools closed across Blue Mountains today. Check 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/7FdbypJAQv for info. #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013

7.51am Emergency Warning remains in place for Ruttleys Road Fire, Wyong.

The NSW RFS says: “The Ruttleys Road Fire is burning in the area of Doyalson North, Swansea, Cams Wharf, Murrays Beach, Cave Beach and Catherine Hill Bay areas.”

7.40am Stay with us throughout the day for live updates on the battle against bushfires in NSW.

NSW Rural Fire Services say they expect a tough day ahead with 65 fires still burning in NSW and windy conditions expected.

65 fires in NSW, 25 uncontained. Today will be challenging – hot and windy. Stay up to date at 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/GuRTiatjQ6 #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 16, 2013In pictures: Bushfires sweep across NSW


Abbott looks towards hot, dry summer

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August 17, 2019 by admin

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has urged NSW employers to be patient with workers who are volunteer fire fighters during the coming long, hot, dry summer.

南宁桑拿

“This is an important way in which the families and businesses can serve our community, by supporting those of their members who are out with the rural fire brigades,” he told reporters at Winmalee Fire Station in the Blue Mountains.

The most serious of the fires currently burning across NSW is in the region near Winmalee.

Mr Abbott, a Rural Fire Service volunteer, thanked those working on the NSW emergency.

“I just want to say how sorry we are on behalf of the people and the parliament of Australia for the heartache which so many hundreds of people in NSW are currently dealing with, but how proud we are of the thousands of volunteers and full-time professionals (fire fighters),” he said.

It was too early to tell how many properties had been destroyed or how much the recovery bill might be.

It’s believed hundreds of homes have been destroyed and one person has been confirmed dead.

People affected by the fires will be able to get disaster relief payments of $1000 per adult and $400 per child.

The payments will be available in the severely affected areas of the Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Muswellbrook, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Port Stephens, Wyong and Wingecarribee.

“It’s quite a long time since we’ve had property losses in the order of hundreds here in NSW, so this was a very, very big fire,” Mr Abbott said.

The prime minister noted Australia had a long experience of managing bushfires and had the infrastructure and personnel in place to deal with such emergencies.

“It could be a long, hot, dry summer,” he said.

“We’re also lucky to have supportive employers, and supportive families who allow their loved ones to go out and do this kind of work when it’s needed.”

Mr Abbott is unlikely to join his Davidson brigade for fire fighting duties over the weekend, his office says.


Uganda on alert amid threat of Kenya-style mall attack

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August 17, 2019 by admin

At least 67 people were massacred in the upmarket shopping centre in Nairobi when gunmen stormed the crowded complex on September 21, firing from the hip and hurling grenades at shoppers and staff.

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“Stay alert and watch each other’s steps and activities, as we are still threatened by terror,” the Ugandan police said in a message.

It followed a message Tuesday from the US embassy in Uganda which said it was continuing “to assess reports that a Westgate-style attack may soon occur in Kampala”.

Security was stepped up around town, but the embassy said that there was no further information on the timing or location of any attack.

The Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents claimed the Westgate attack, saying it was in revenge for Kenya military action against the group in southern Somalia.

Uganda also has troops in Somalia with the African Union force that is battling the Shebab, and has been attacked on home soil by the extremists before, in 2010 bomb blasts that killed 76 people.

The warnings come as a Norwegian citizen of Somali origin was reported to be suspected of being one of the attackers who stormed the Westgate.

The 23-year-old was named by the BBC as Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, and who is suspected of helping to plan and carry out the mall attack.

Dhuhulow was born in Somalia, but he and his family moved to Norway as refugees in 1999, according to relatives who spoke to the BBC.

However, other relatives denied it was Dhuhulow who appeared in security camera footage of the attack.

A propaganda video released this week by the Shebab praised foreign fighters, showing several insurgents it said had come from Britain and who had been killed in battle.

The video was apparently made before the Westgate attack as it made no reference to it, although it highlights the “suffering of Muslims in Kenya” as well as other countries.

The film, narrated by a man in a military jacket, face hooded in a black mask and speaking with an apparently British accent, claims fighters from multiple nations including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Lebanon, India and Pakistan had all fought with the force.