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Barty excited at facing Williams in Open

2019年1月16日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty believes she can produce one of the greatest upsets in Australian Open history against world No.


1 Serena Williams.

Many would have treated drawing the 17-time grand slam champion in the first round as a nightmare.

But 17-year-old world No.153 Barty can’t wait to step on to Rod Laver Arena on Monday night.

“You have to go out believing you can win the match, otherwise there’s no point walking out on the court really,” Barty told reporters at Melbourne Park on Saturday.

“I’m going to do all that I can to try to win it.”

Williams is the hot favourite to claim the Open title for a sixth time and join Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on 18 majors, which would leave her trailing only Steffi Graf (22) in the professional era.

Barty is just beginning her first full year on the WTA tour and hasn’t played since injuring an adductor muscle in Brisbane in late December.

But the Australian says she is fully recovered and will relish the experience.

“Not every week do you get to go out and play against one of the greatest champions of all time. I’m really excited for the challenge,” she said.

Only once in the Open Era has the women’s top seed lost in the Australian Open first round, when Romanian Virginia Ruzici fell to Australian Mary Sawyer in 1979.

But Williams saw enough of the one match Barty played in the Brisbane International, when she upset world No.32 Daniela Hantuchova, to approach her with respect.

“She’s extremely talented,” Williams, who won the Brisbane title, said.

“She moves well, she plays well, she serves well, she has good returns.

“I saw her play a little bit at Brisbane.

“I was actually super impressed with her game.”

Williams, 32, missed the 2011 Australian Open through injury and was troubled by ankle injuries during the past two Opens, both won by Victoria Azarenka.

But this year, the American great said she will enter the tournament in excellent physical condition.

And she’s keen to join Navratilova and Evert on 18 majors.

“It would mean a lot to be on the same level as such great players,” she said.

Sprint king Bolt welcomes hair follicle testing

2019年1月16日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

“This is the first I’m hearing it,” Bolt said minutes after collecting his 5th RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman of the Year Award in Kingston late on Friday.


“But I think that anyway you can crack down on drug use in sports, I have no problem with it,” added the Jamaican, who holds the 100 and 200 metre world records of 9.58 and 19.19 seconds.

Bolt’s comments come after new WADA boss Craig Reedie revealed his intension to introduce hair follicle testing to help rid sports of drug cheats.

“We test in the main blood and urine, but now we will look at different approaches, such as can we use a lock of hair,” Reedie was quoted by the British newspaper The Guardian as saying.

Bolt, the winner of six Olympic gold medals, welcomed the move.

“If it’s a new rule and it’s a better way to clamp down on this, then I welcome it,” the sprint star offered.

Reedie, who says a new $10 million fund set up by the International Olympic Committee should open up new testing techniques to catch cheats said: “This is a really exciting development and means we can look at approaches that in the past have been unaffordable.”

Meanwhile, Paul Wright, the doping control officer at the Jamaica Anti-doping Commission (JADCO) who last year noted the spate of positive tests by Jamaican athletes, including Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, believed Reedie’s plan was a master stroke.

“Hair follicle (testing) has been advocated by France for some years now and it is good to see that this new chief of WADA has decided to put this in his armament,” Wright reasoned.

Another Jamaican Sports Medicine Specialist Winston Dawes believed the latest testing technique could work in Jamaica’s favour.

“I think that the more test (technique) that we have, the more we (Jamaica) will prove that its natural talent and our (training and high school) programme, which has been the reason why we have dominated the sprints in the last few years,” Dawes said.

Executive Director of JADCO Carey Brown, who took office in October after Jamaica was put through the ringer over claims of inadequate testing, said he stood ready to implement whatever the global anti-doping watchdog proposes.

“We welcome anything like that because, I mean, it would be something new… something innovative. Using hair follicles, as well, is also less invasive,” the JADCO boss said.

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)

DPP to look at murder charges for McNeil

2019年1月16日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

The NSW attorney-general has asked authorities to assess whether murder charges can be laid against the man who punched Daniel Christie, whose life support has been turned off.


Mr Christie, 18, was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital in a critical condition after allegedly being punched by Shaun McNeil in Kings Cross on New Year’s Eve.

And after 11 days in hospital his life support was turned off on Saturday afternoon.

Attorney-general Greg Smith said he has asked the acting director of public prosecutions “to closely examine this case with a view to determining if murder charges are appropriate in light of the evidence, and in light of the alleged offender’s reported martial arts experience.”

After a meeting with the family of Thomas Kelly, who also died after a king-hit attack in Kings Cross, Mr Smith said he’s giving “careful consideration to their proposals.”

The Kelly’s in November began a petition calling for drunkenness to be a mandatory aggravating factor that must be taken into account in sentencing.

The petition, started in November, was at about 25,000 signatures before New Year’s Eve.

And following the alleged assault on Mr Christie, that surged to more than 124,000.

Mr Smith wouldn’t comment further on the case, but did pass on his condolences to the Christie family.

“Daniel Christie’s death is a senseless tragedy which will rightly outrage and sadden everyone in NSW. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time,” he said in a statement.

“I cannot imagine their pain and anguish, their despair and devastation and I am humbled by their dignity and the generous gesture of donating Daniel’s organs.”

Police expect further charges to be laid against his alleged attacker when he next appears in court in March.

Don’t scrap charity regulator: Labor

2019年9月18日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

The federal opposition has lashed out at a new report recommending the government proceed with plans to scrap the national body responsible for regulating charities.


A Centre for Independent Studies report released on Thursday calls on the government to abolish what is says is the ineffectual Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC).

It says despite being in operation for more than a year, the ACNC has failed to fulfill its key mandates – reducing the red-tape burden for charities, increasing public trust in the sector, and policing fraud and wrongdoing.

And it’s unlikely to do so in future because of “fundamental flaws” in the regulatory model.

“It doesn’t need more time, it needs to be abolished,” the report says.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews plans to scrap the ACNC in the coming months and is considering replacing it with an American-style online “charity navigator”, which polices charities based on private sector feedback.

But the opposition says it’s unnecessary to remove the ACNC, which Labor established in 2012.

Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said it will mean the Australian Tax Office might have a conflict of interest if it both collects revenue and determines whether an organisation gets tax-deductable status.

“Only blinkered idealogy would have you say the tax office would do a better job becoming the default regulator of charities,” he told AAP on Thursday.

Dr Leigh said replacing the body with a US-style league system was “completely baffling” because that system supported an ACNC-type model already.

“It would be a retrograde step to abolish the ACNC and it would go entirely in the opposite direction of other nations in terms of an efficient regulator of charities.”

Ocean debris leads the way for castaway fisherman

2019年9月18日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

By Erik van Sebille

The fisherman who washed up on the Marshall Islands last weekend was very lucky to have stranded on a remote beach there.


The currents in the Pacific Ocean would have inevitably taken him into the great garbage patch of the North Pacific, where he could then have been floating for centuries to come.

The castaway – Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a fisherman from El Salvador – reportedly left Mexico in November 2012. He and his friend Ezequiel only planned for a short a fishing trip, but he ended up alone in his boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

His friend died about a month into the journey and Mr Alvarenga apparently survived on a diet of fish, birds and turtles, and by drinking turtle blood and rainwater.


Castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga describes his ordeal


Drifting westward

In the tropical Pacific, the trade winds create some of the strongest currents in the world. These currents move water, and with it plastics, plankton and castaways, westward.

Some have cast doubt on the authenticity of Mr Alvarenga’s story but my research website adrift南宁夜生活,广西桑拿网, shows that flotsam that starts off the west coast of Mexico will pass through the Marshall Islands within 14 to 20 months.

This agrees well with how long Mr Alvarenga says he had to live on his boat, feeding on fish, birds and turtles.


Marine debris drifting westward over time across the Pacific. adrift南宁夜生活,广西桑拿网,


The circulation pattern of the Pacific Ocean therefore seems to vindicate his claims of being lost at sea for so long. The tropical Pacific is also known for its richness in marine life, with plenty of fish and bids so he would have had access to plenty of food.

Lucky to find land

Although Mr Alvarenga is not to be envied for his trip, he was lucky in one way. The Marshall Islands are tiny atolls in a vast ocean. Stumbling upon a beach in that area is like finding a water well in the outback Australia.

My website adrift南宁夜生活,广西桑拿网, shows that, if his boat had not been thrown on a remote beach in the Marshall Islands, it is likely that it would have continued moving westward towards the Philippines.

But before reaching the Philippine coast, the currents would have taken him on a giant U-turn, northeastward and back into the central Pacific.

Caught in the rubbish


Map of the Great Ocean Garbage Patches in the Pacific. NOAA’s Marine Debris Program


In the end, it is very likely that his boat would have ended up in the great garbage patch of the North Pacific.

This area, roughly between Hawaii and the California coast, is where much of the plastics, ghost nets and other floating debris that people throw in the ocean ends up.

The garbage patches (there’s five of them in the world, two in the Pacific, two in the Atlantic and one in the Indian Ocean) are the sinkholes of the ocean. Water at the surface slowly sinks to hundreds of meters depth. Everything that’s too buoyant, like plastics or fishing boats, stays behind for centuries to millennia.

The existence of these garbage patches is a disgrace. But unfortunately, it will be very hard to clean them up.


Plastic bottle caps found in the ocean NOAA PIFSC


Most of the plastics in the patches is very small, roughly the same size as some of the plankton. There are currently no viable plans to remove the plastics but keep the plankton. Let alone do it in an environmentally sustainable way, without using enormous amount of dirty diesel to power a fleet of ships.

That is why the focus of the marine plastic problem should not be about cleaning it up, but about preventing the plastics from getting in the ocean in the first place.

Drifting buoys

Much of what we know of the surface ocean circulation comes from buoys that, just like plastic or castaway fishermen, drift with the currents.

But the buoys have an added tracking advantage. They have GPS and a satellite telephone, and send short text messages with their position every six hours. So the buoys are like twitter feeds from the ocean.

Most of the bouys also end up in the garbage patches. Oceanographers like me use the trajectories of the buoys to piece together how water would move from one location to the other.

It is important to understand how heat, nutrients, fish and plastics move through our ocean basin.

And, as an interesting side to our research, it also helps understand what has happened to the poor fishermen who get adrift.

Erik van Sebille receives funding from the Australian Research Council.

Twitter shares dive on soft user growth

2019年9月18日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

Twitter has been hit with a reality check, reporting modest user growth during a quarter in which it lost $US511 million ($A573.


35 million).

Twitter shares skidded more than 13 per cent to $US57.29 in after-market trades following its first quarterly earnings release since its stock market debut last year.

The results showed revenues in the quarter that ended December 31 doubled from a year prior to a better-than-expected $US242.6 million.

But investors seemed unhappy that the average number of monthly users had climbed just 30 per cent to 241 million when compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

Twitter released its first earnings report since a wildly successful stock offering, in what is being seen as a critical test for the popular messaging platform.

The loss for the year for Twitter widened to $645 million from $79 million in 2012 even as revenues more than doubled to $664 million for the full year.

Shares in Twitter soared from the offering price last November of $US26, and analysts say that to sustain that momentum Twitter must prove it can grow and move toward profitability.

“Twitter finished a great year with our strongest financial quarter to date,” said chief executive Dick Costolo said in the earnings release.

“We are the only platform that is public, real-time, conversational and widely distributed and I’m excited by the number of initiatives we have underway.”

Twitter has fast become ingrained in popular culture but must still convince investors of its business model.

Twitter is expected to be able to reach profitability over time by delivering ads in the form of promoted tweets, and from its data analytics.

“The problem is that there are some serious caveats for growth ahead and user metrics,” Jon Ogg of website 24/7 Wall Street wrote in a post about the earnings.

“Twitter’s stock is so far getting a reality check.”

‘Greed behind Brisbane referee’s murder’

2019年9月18日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

Greed is behind the murder of a Brisbane referee found under his home with a gunshot wound to the head.


There’s finally been a breakthrough in Tony McGrath’s murder, nine months after his gruesome death.

A 38-year-old homeless man has been charged with his murder after being arrested in his car in at the Yatala Pies shop, south of Brisbane.

Police are questioning others over the murder and are expecting further arrests.

They wouldn’t confirm if the man was hired as a hit man but said the “persons of interest” were to gain financially from the rugby league referee’s death.

It’s the second time there has been an attempt on Mr McGrath’s life, after a fire in October 2012.

The 38-year-old man has also been charged with stupefying Mr McGrath and attempting murder by setting his Woolloongabba home alight.

Police say greed lead to Mr McGrath’s death, but wouldn’t detail how much could be gained by the murder.

“We believe that the motive for the murder is financial,” Detective Inspector Damien Hansen of the State Crime Command Homicide Group said.

Mr McGrath, 57, died of a single shot to his head and may have been dead for more than two days before his body was found by a friend on May 21.

Police described him as a “loner” who had no family apart from his sister and said his lack of close relationships made it hard to track leads.

He had been single for many years and was retired after a long career with the tax office.

Not long before his death he had been appointed president of the Brisbane Rugby League Referees Association.

“I’d say he was more than comfortable,” Rod Kemp Detective Inspector at Mount Gravatt said.

“He was reasonable citizen, quite wealthy in his own right I guess, without saying he was overly wealthy.”

A 46-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday night at Terranora who police say is a person of interest, however he’s yet to be charged over the murder.

A woman who use to own a brothel in Tweed Heads has also been spoken to and a number of properties will be searched in the coming days.

Police say persons of interest are more friends than business associates.

“It is a very complex investigation. There are a number of persons of interest and that could increase in the coming days,” Det Insp Kemp said.

The 38-year-old man charged with murder is also charged with robbery with violence whilst armed, attempted murder, arson, stupefying in order to commit an indictable offence, entering premises with intent and weapons act offences.

He was due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Call for COAG to set new reform agenda

2019年9月18日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink


By Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

CANBERRA, Feb 6 AAP – The state and federal governments have been urged to embark on a new five-year plan to harmonise business and industry regulation.


The COAG Reform Council made the call on Thursday, releasing its final report to the Council of Australian Governments on the success of the “seamless national economy” program over the past five years.

The report card found that of the 45 reform areas covered by the federal-state agreement, 31 had been successfully completed and a further 11 were partially complete.

The Productivity Commission estimated that just 17 of the reforms alone would reduce business costs by $4 billion a year and add $6 billion a year to GDP.

COAG Reform Council chairman John Brumby said it was time for the premiers and prime minister – who will meet in April – to consider a new agenda for the next five years.

Among the issues for that agenda should be energy, transport, how to fund infrastructure, competition policy, deregulation and the reforming COAG itself.

“There is unfinished business,” Mr Brumby said.

There also needed to be work on the three reform areas of the past five years that were not successfully concluded: mine safety, regulation making and review, and the legal profession.

Mr Brumby said there was clear evidence that reward payments to the states and territories led to better progress on reform.

After five years, governments had completed 21 of 26 reward-linked reforms and only 10 of 19 non-reward reforms.

Asked how reward payments could be afforded given the federal government’s budget tightening, Mr Brumby said growth in GDP and extra tax revenue generated by a healthier business sector would offset any modest spending.

South Australia was rated the most successful state, completing 29 of the 40 reforms it was involved in, while Western Australia completed only 22 of 36 reforms.

Neither WA, NSW or Queensland – considered to have the highest-risk mining activity – had put in place national mine safety regulations, but NSW had passed mine safety laws.

Of the reforms, harmonising building and plumbing regulations across states (except WA) into a national construction code was said to be worth $1 billion a year to the national economy.

Uniform occupational health and safety laws, not yet enacted in Victoria and WA, could be expected to save cross-border businesses $500 million a year.

Mr Brumby said COAG should continue to monitor the success of the already enacted reforms.

“It’s important that a mechanism be put in place to make sure there is momentum to ensure the rest of the agenda is completed, so Australians and Australian businesses get the benefits,” he said.

Vatican under scrutiny after UN report

2019年8月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

The UN’s damning report on the Vatican’s handling of child sex abuse cases has turned up the pressure on the Church to convince a sceptical international community it has adopted a zero-tolerance approach.


“The Vatican has taken some steps forward, but they have been largely symbolic: energetic words rather than actions. The UN is right to have spoken out so strongly,” said Vatican commentator Paolo Flores D’Arcais.

The Church was denounced by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on Wednesday for failing to stamp out predatory priests, and urged to hand over known and suspected abusers for prosecution.

The UN committee’s recommendations are non-binding but have held up a fresh mirror to highly damaging Vatican failures.

The report was a bolt from the blue for an institution revelling in the popularity of its new pope, Francis, who has spoken little of the abuse and who appeared to hope the Church had left the crisis behind it.

Some Vatican watchers believe much has been done to set an important moral example for wayward clergy.

But the Vatican’s lack of transparency – insisting on dealing with the scandal behind closed doors – has disappointed victims.

For more than a decade, the Church has been rocked by a cascade of scandals around the world, with victims describing the trauma of abuse at the hands of people charged with their care.

The Vatican says it continues to receive around 600 claims against abusive priests every year, many dating back to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Former pope Benedict apologised in 2010 for the “sinful and criminal” acts committed by members of the clergy, saying he was “truly sorry” and going on to defrock 400 offenders between 2011 and 2012.

His successor Pope Francis has said Catholics should feel “shame” for abuse and has presided over the creation of a commission to investigate sex crimes, enforce prevention and care for victims – though it has yet to begin work.

While several bishops have stepped down over scandals in their dioceses, victims and support groups demand someone be held legally accountable.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) dismissed as inadequate the Vatican’s tense response that it had “taken note” of the UN report and would submit it to “a thorough study and examination”.

“Bishops don’t move predators, shun victims, rebuff prosecutors, shred evidence, intimidate witnesses, discredit whistleblowers, dodge responsibility, fabricate alibis… because of inadequate ‘study’,” SNAP said.

“The quickest way to prevent child sexual violence by Catholic clerics is for Pope Francis to publicly remove all offenders from ministry…. But like his predecessors, he has refused to take even tiny steps in this direction,” it said.

The Vatican’s secretary of state Pietro Parolin spoke of the Church’s “desire to adhere to the commission’s needs”.

But frustration over the Vatican’s handling of the matter was expressed even by some Catholic groups.

“If the pope is serious about turning the page on this scandal, he should immediately dismiss any bishop who oversaw a diocese in which a priest who abused children was shielded from the civil authorities,” said Jon O’Brien, head of the US lobby group Catholics for Choice.

“There can be no place in our Church for bishops or priests who put children at risk. From now on, there must be zero tolerance for bishops who shield child abusers,” he said.

Retail figures show price pressure

2019年8月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

New figures show a run of strong monthly gains in retail turnover are largely the result of price rises.


The value of retail trade rose by 0.5 per cent in December, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday.

It was the fifth in a run of solid monthly gains and lifted annual growth to 5.7 per cent, the fastest through-the-year growth recorded since November 2009.

That run followed a flat spot in the middle of 2013 which left the value of retail turnover lower in June than in February.

This recent pickup has led some economists to expect a brighter performance for the economy than the dull effort of 2013.

But the figures on Thursday suggest that’s only partly because consumers are keen to buy more.

It’s also because what they want to buy is costing more.

The value of retail turnover in the December quarter was 2.0 per cent higher than in the preceding quarter.

It was the biggest quarterly rise since the March quarter of 2009.

But the picture changes after allowing for price changes.

In real terms – or chain-volume terms, the way the ABS prefers to put it – turnover rose by 0.9 per cent in the December quarter.

That was a solid rise, but only 0.2 stronger than average of the past decade, which included the global financial crisis and a world recession.

And whether that growth rate is sustained, or was just a one-off bounce back from the pause earlier in the year, remains to be seen.

Stagnating employment growth and weak wages growth suggest it won’t, at least not until the housing price surge is translated into a pickup in building activity.

The rest of the December quarter increase the value of turnover was the result of price rises.

The ABS said price rises added 1.1 per cent to the value of turnover in the quarter.

The only bigger quarterly rise in retail prices in the past decade was in the March quarter of 2009, when prices rose by 1.4 per cent.

And there’s a reason why the previous big price rise was in the March quarter of 2009.

Just like the latest price jump, it followed hot on the heels of a big drop in the value of the Australian dollar.

The exchange rate slumped in late 2008 as investors reacted with alarm to the global financial crisis in late 2008.

In the December quarter of last year the Aussie dollar was trading around 10 per cent below its 2011-2012 average.

That followed a mid-2013 slide in a response to weaker export commodity prices and the prospect of higher interest rates in the US.

So, yes, retail trade has picked up, but a lot of the pickup has been the price effects of the lower exchange rate and the recovery in retailing is not quite as strong as it seems.

Sport, Sochi and the rising challenge of the activist athlete

2019年8月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

By David Rowe, University of Western Sydney

What happens off the field stays off the track and the dais but plays OK at the press conference – that is the rather convoluted message from International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach in the face of potential political protests at the Sochi Winter Olympics.


Bach is trying to narrow the scope available to dissenting Olympic athletes. They face punishment if they make their move when medals are being contested or dispensed. The local Games organisers want to go further by confining shows of activism to a “Speakers’ Corner” somewhere in Sochi city.

Such is the complexity of life for the activist athlete at the “Prolympics”. And Sochi and Russia have certainly given the politically aware athlete plenty to work with. Last year, Russia passed laws making it an offence to discuss homosexuality with minors.

To avoid any awkward ambiguity, Sochi mayor Anatoly Pakhamov recently fouled the welcome mat of his Olympic city when he stated that:

[homosexuality] is not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city.

Much has changed since the days when officials could rule their young athletic charges with a rod of iron. This does not mean that the balance of power has shifted entirely. But today’s “blazerati” are required to negotiate with athletes who can create a storm of controversy with a brief gesture on live television or a single tweet.

Athletes harness their fame

In recent decades sportspeople have joined the likes of film and pop stars in the global celebrity ranks. It is hardly surprising that some have emulated activist actors and “protest” singers in using their fame to advance social causes, such as those in support of the Principle 6 campaign against Russia’s anti-gay laws.

At one time film studios would discourage such activities for fear of damage at the box office. Record company executives would worry about alienating apolitical music fans. But screen and music celebrities became bigger than the companies that housed them, and greater political autonomy for artists followed.

Sport, with its rigid hierarchies and myths of transcending the lives of mere mortals, has been a harder nut to crack for activist athletes. They are still vulnerable to being labelled troublemakers and malcontents.


Bobsleigh teammates Jana Pittman and Astrid Radjenovic support the Principle 6 campaign. AAP/Chris James


Big-name sportspeople, though, wield their own power. They commonly run their own charitable foundations as a way of “giving something back”. It would be overly cynical to dismiss this in all cases as a calculated extension of image manufacture and tax minimisation, but it is unlikely to provoke debate or conflict.

Taking a strong political stance is a more hazardous extra-curricular activity. It will certainly engage those with conflicting points of view. It is also likely to make sports’ governing bodies nervous about their relationships with corporate sponsors and governments.

Olympians and other sportspeople are now more likely to use conventional and social media to present views. Even if sport officials can ban athletes from engaging in social media at certain times (such as a ski jumper standing at the top of the hill), they cannot continually patrol digital communication. Doing so opens them up to charges of unwarranted interference and censorship.

Hence the concentration on the times when the “whole world is watching”, the live competition and ritual.

Seizing the moment

It is hard to discuss this issue without conjuring up images of the black power salutes by American 200-metre runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medals podium at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Australian Peter Norman wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in solidarity with Smith and Carlos, who were expelled from the Games.

Norman was ostracised by Australian Olympic officialdom. His treatment led to a belated parliamentary apology in 2012, six years after his death.


The black power salutes at the 1968 Olympics were a transformative moment, which included Australian Peter Norman and inspired this Sydney street art. AAP/Mick Tsikas


The IOC would be most unhappy if, for example, victorious Sochi Olympians wore rainbow-coloured gloves in solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people as their countries’ flags were raised. But there is much more to athlete activism than visual podium polemic.

It might involve joining an Amnesty International campaign, as Australian rugby player David Pocock has done, to end discrimination against Russia’s LGBTI community. Or a soccer player like Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand speaking in support of Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion campaign founded by the Professional Footballers’ Association.

But what counts as athlete activism may be much more unstructured and unpredictable than dedicated sport-related campaigns. Few are as strange as the unilateral diplomacy pursued by retired basketballer Dennis Rodman in North Korea.

The activism may also not be progressive. There is a history of loaded on-field gestures such as the Fascist-linked “Roman salute” by Italian footballer and manager Paolo di Canio to Lazio supporters in 2005 and the “quenelle” – said to be an inverted Nazi salute – that England-based French footballer Nicolas Anelka performed late last year.

Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was expelled just before the London 2012 Olympics for posting tweets that mocked African immigrants and supported the far-right Golden Dawn Party.

The relationship between politics and sportspeople is many-sided. It ranges from carefully planned strategic interventions to seemingly unpremeditated signals and utterances.

Images of the Olympic black power protest or of AFL player Nicky Winmar lifting his jumper in 1993 to display his black skin in proud defiance of sustained racial abuse from Collingwood supporters are lasting reminders of sport’s power to crystallise a burning issue such as racism.

Each mega sport event offers a fresh opportunity for athlete activists to run the gauntlet of official disapproval in pursuit of unparalleled visibility for their cause. The Sochi Winter Games may be remembered less for gold-medal winning performances than for a media blizzard of activist athlete-generated politics.

David Rowe is currently receiving Australian Research Council Discovery Project funding for A Nation of ‘Good Sports’? Cultural Citizenship and Sport in Contemporary Australia (DP130104502).

Social media users take on neknominate and Coca-Cola

2019年8月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

When the Neknominate online dare craze allegedly claimed the life of a 19-year-old man, Twitter and Facebook users weren’t afraid to speak out for and against the phenomenon.


  The death also reignited the debate of how much or how little Facebook and other networking sites can and should interfere with controversial content.

Twitter was the venue for highly polarised reactions to a Coca-Cola commercial that aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday. The commercial featured people of diverse ethnicities and sexual orientations singing the patriotic song “America the Beautiful” in different languages. Some tweeters called the multi-lingual ad anti-American, some called for a Coke boycott and others went as far as saying the company was promoting terrorism.

Social media commentator and digital strategist Kate Carruthers weighed in on the ways the two stories have impacted people on and offline.

NekNominate and its pay-it-forward counterpart

Facebook responded to requests to take down pages that promote NekNominate from the website by saying – if it doesn’t cause direct harm, we don’t take it down – but Ms Carruthers says Facebook is just sticking to their guns and acting in accordance with their guidelines.

“Facebook very much takes the view that it operates within the law. [Neknominate] is not an illegal activity and why should it intervene. Yes, it’s foolhardy activity but there’s lots of foolhardy activity online. Why should a company like them be responsible for that?”

COMMENT: #neknomination. Internet has changed the drinking game

Ms Carruthers says the kind of behaviour that can be seen in NekNominate videos has been happening for years – the culture of binge drinking is nothing new – it just hasn’t been posted and shared online. Although Neknominate may have dangerous consequences for some, Ms Carruthers says there are limits to what people can do to stop it.   

“Yes we can warn them of the dangers, but being young people, they will typically ignore us older folks. But we can and ought to provide alternative information.”

The focus in the last day or so has shifted from videos of people binge drinking to a movement started by a South African man who dares others to do some good. Brent Lindeque posted a YouTube video of himself donating food to impoverished South Africans and nominating his friends to do similar acts of kindness.  Ms Carruthers says this is a much more profitable response to Neknominate.

“Suddenly we’re amplifying the good instead of stupidity. That’s a much more effective strategy than just preaching at people saying ‘this is dumb, you shouldn’t do it.'”

“[Social media] is a force multiplier for both good and evil. It takes just that one person to start shifting the trend away from the negative behaviour towards positive behaviour,” Ms Carruthers says.

Coca-Cola divides America

Social media has become a crucial platform for people to share polarised views. One of the most poignant examples of this in the past few weeks has been the reaction toward Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl commercial.

People took to Twitter to compliment the ad on its heartfelt representation of America’s diversity while others thought the multilingualism was offensive to English speaking Americans.

There are over 300 indigenous languages in the US alone. English isn’t one of them. #coke

— Khaetlyn Grindell (@Khaetlyn) February 3, 2014

#BoycottCoke everything in that @CocaCola commercial was un-American.

— Steven McVeigh (@SMcVeigh_) February 3, 2014

“Twitter is not a good representation of public opinion because it’s not a broad swathe of public opinion, it tends to represent extreme views very often and they take very extreme opposing positions quite quickly,” says Carruthers. “There are very few moderates when you see something like this on Twitter.”

Tweets may not reflect the true American society, but it can serve as a big influencer that can make or break brands. In this case, however, Ms Carruthers says she doesn’t expect a widespread Coca-Cola boycott to take place.

“The number of people who will actually take action on that will probably be very small. So the impact of coke as a brand from their sales would be negligible would be my suspicion.”

It’s easy to forget that regardless of the effect Coca-Cola’s ad may have had on people, the company’s bottom line is to sell their product. What’s important for them and for those who Neknominate, for that matter,  is that they’ve gotten people talking – and that’s really all that matters.

Abbott agenda faces first electoral test

2019年8月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

The entrance to Tony Abbott’s office has become something of a revolving door.


But as he and Treasurer Joe Hockey seek to balance the budget, pay off Labor’s debt and explain the government’s philosophy, most are leaving the PM’s Parliament House suite empty-handed.

Whether this new frugality – seen most recently in knocking back SPC Ardmona’s request for $25 million to shore up thousands of fruit grower and processing plant jobs – is resonating with voters will be tested this weekend.

Labor candidate Terri Butler appears on track to win Saturday’s by-election in former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s Brisbane seat of Griffith.

The Liberal candidate, Bill Glasson, is up against history.

No government has won a seat held by the opposition at a federal by-election since 1920.

As well, the coalition has been trailing Labor in national opinion polls since late last year and pundits believe the gap is wider in Queensland.

Rudd’s early retirement, while treated with scepticism by some, is unlikely to be much of a factor as his personal vote had been trending down since the high-water mark of 2010 when he had 58.5 per cent of the two-party vote.

With federal parliament returning from the summer break on Tuesday, a retained seat will put a spring in the step of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his caucus.

A big win might even give the government pause for thought.

Abbott, having declared Australia as “open for business”, will be forced to defend how jobs can be created by knocking back industry assistance, calling on big business to reduce working conditions, cutting the public service and urging the Fair Work Commission to take a fresh look at penalty rates.

The joint coalition party room meeting on Tuesday is expected to be feisty, with The Nationals seeking a better deal for drought-stricken farmers in Queensland and NSW, and Victorian Liberal MP Sharman Stone having accused the PM of “lying” over SPC Ardmona worker pay and conditions.

There’s also potential for state-based rifts, with Tasmanian coalition MPs – whose state colleagues face a winnable election on March 15 – thrilled with the government’s support for a grant to chocolate giant Cadbury’s but those in SA and Victoria wondering why Holden and SPC got short shrift.

In Abbott’s corner will be Treasurer Joe Hockey, who has embarked on a campaign to explain the government’s strategy to a doubting public.

The public release of an initial report by the commission of audit, which is expected to be handed to the government in the coming week, is one of the keys to any explanation.

Hockey initially indicated the commission’s final report – due in March – would not be released until very close to the May budget, as Labor did with the Henry tax review.

Now the treasurer has signalled an early release to help public understanding of the scale of the government’s task in winding back debt and returning to a budget surplus within a decade.

“You’re not using money that belongs to some oblique body called the government,” Hockey says.

“You’re actually using someone else’s hard-earned money when you use taxpayers’ money. You have to be very careful and prudent with it.”

Shorten has found fertile ground in the Griffith by-election by pointing to Queensland premier Campbell Newman’s own commission of audit which inflicted “pain and hardship” on the state.

Hockey, he says, has deliberately delayed the release of the interim audit report until after the by-election “to make sure any cuts stay hidden” until after the polls close.

Abbott is expected to use parliament to remind voters his government is getting on with core election promises.

The boats are stopping and laws to abolish the carbon and mining taxes have been introduced but are being held up in the Senate by Labor and the Greens.

He will also seek to shift public focus onto indigenous disadvantage with the his first annual Closing the Gap statement, which is likely to be heavy on the need for Aborigines to help themselves get ahead.

Abbott and Hockey’s message of individuals and businesses needing to take responsibility for their own destinies has both political dangers and merits for the coalition.

If voters are not convinced, the government itself might be the next one going out the revolving door.