Chinese whistleblower granted political asylum

‘Rebecca’ Jun Mei Wu has told SBS News she is relieved to have been granted asylum in Australia.

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Ms Wu worked for the digital arm of the People’s Daily state media empire from 2012 to 2016. She fled the city of Wuhan for Sydney after being detained and questioned by security officers over her affiliation with an underground Protestant church.

“I’m very thankful to the Australian government for saving me from certain imprisonment in China,” Ms Wu told SBS.

“My relatives are still under surveillance back home. The situation journalists face in China is dire.”

In a series of interviews with SBS last year, Ms Wu described the personal crisis she underwent when she was confronted by the systemic repression and censorship involved in the state media which is controlled by the Communist Party.

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“I left because I didn’t want to work in party propaganda anymore,” Ms Wu said.

“Telling the truth was not how we did business.”

Her husband remains in China, where authorities have placed him under a domestic travel restriction, which prevents him from leaving the city in which he works.

Ms Wu’s flight from China provided a rare insight into the workings of state media there, which has seen an increase in censorship directives and online surveillance under the watch of President Xi Jinping.

The former Communist Party member also documented several cases of extortion involving the People’s Daily, in which reporters were told to find evidence of corruption before blackmailing companies.

“It was cash for silence, basically,” she told SBS.

In one instance, she alleged that the Daily’s Wuhan bureau extorted more than 627,000 RMB every year from chemical manufacturer Chuyuan Technologies, which had done massive ecological damage to nearby villages after dumping effluent in the Yangtze River.

“This was our arrangement: Chuyuan would pay us $119,000 per year, and we would hold off on reporting any of these things that were affecting local people,” she explained.

“In addition to that, Chuyuan would get advertising space – as well as good press in our reportage.”

Ms Wu was detained by public security officials last year after managers discovered psalm notes at her workplace.

After intense questioning, she was asked to “infiltrate and monitor” her church group and to pass the information to security forces.

Her detention came at the height of a state crackdown on underground churches in China, in which a prominent pastor Father Gu Yuese was detained by authorities alongside his lawyer.

Reverend Bill Crews of the Uniting Church in Ashfield, who gave Ms Wu sanctuary upon her arrival to Australia, praised the Immigration Minister for his decision to grant asylum.

“I am so pleased by this decision,” Reverand Crews said.

“The immigration department and the minister have acted commendably.”

Watch The Feed’s interview with Jun Mei Wu about her case:

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Listen to coverage of the case on SBS Mandarin.

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Turnbull backtracks on GST promise in WA

Six months after getting a standing ovation for promising to fix the GST system that was short-changing WA, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has backtracked and now says the floor he promised to set for the states is years away.

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The comments are a significant election blow to Premier Colin Barnett, who said over the weekend he wanted an answer from the prime minister during his visit this week about where the floor would be.

“The GST is our one major financial issue. I’ve been banging on about that for the last eight years, and I’ll continue to do so,” he said at the Liberal Party’s campaign launch.

The state’s GST share fell to 30 cents in every dollar raised by the tax in WA last year, equating to a $4.7 billion shortfall compared to the state’s population share.

It is blamed by the Barnett government for its record $3 billion-plus deficit.

Mr Turnbull now says WA will have to wait until its share increased to about 70-75 cents in the dollar.

He wrongly said that was forecast to be in about 2020, but Treasury says it will only be about 60 cents.

“Clearly you want to set a floor at a time when no state will be a loser and we need to wait a few years until the Western Australia share under the current formula climbs back up to a more normal level,” he told reporters.

It will also require the agreement of other states, he says.

Mr Turnbull said he was being consistent with last year’s promise, but last August there was no mention of the change taking until 2020 or requiring the agreement of the other states and Treasury being unable to act.

He also said Labor leader Mark McGowan should not be promising to divert federal funds to help pay for Labor’s flagship election policy – the $2.54 billion Metronet train system.

Labor plans to scrap the $1.9 billion controversial Perth Freight Link road project, tear up contracts already signed for it and redirect part of the $1.2 billion in federal funds to Metronet.

“That’s not his money … the Perth Freight Link project is one of the top priority projects and was assessed very carefully by Infrastructure Australia, was fully costed and engineered and is ready to go,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio.

“If he wants federal money for another project, he will have to make a case for it.

“Mr McGowan has no business case, even if this is the best idea in the world it will take years before it gets through all those hoops and governments can responsibly allocate the funds and get the work started.”

Mr McGowan says he is prepared to “have a war” with the federal government.

“We’ll get the money out of the commonwealth and if I have to have a war with the federal government I will, but they will cave in because Western Australia will not be intimidated or bullied,” he told reporters.

Mr McGowan said the federal and state Liberals had failed WA by not delivering changes to the GST.

Pence reassures Europe, demands NATO funds

Capping a European trip aimed at allaying fears about the new administration’s support, Pence said Washington’s backing for the EU remained “steadfast and enduring”.

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“Today it is my privilege on behalf of President Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union,” Pence said after talks with EU president Donald Tusk in Brussels.

European allies have all been unnerved by Trump’s criticism of the EU as a vehicle for Germany, his praise of Britain’s decision to leave the bloc and his dismissal of NATO as “obsolete” even as he praises Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But Pence pledged the United States would keep working with Europe to boost the world’s two biggest economies, fight terrorism and defend eastern EU states against Russian encroachment.

Tusk, a former Polish premier, said that Europeans “truly needed” the meeting with Pence and that the 28-nation bloc counted on “wholehearted and unequivocal” US support.

“Too much has happened over the past month in your country and in the EU … for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be,” Tusk said.

Pence also met European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, a former Luxembourg premier, who stressed that the United States “needs a strong united Europe.”.

NATO ‘actions not words’

Scores of protesters gathered in the EU quarter of the Belgian capital during Pence’s visit, criticising the Trump administration’s attitude toward women, gays and climate change.

Two female protesters went topless and carried banners saying “Pence get out of our pants,” while another placard read “Love Trumps Hate”.

At NATO headquarters, Pence said Trump expects NATO allies to make “real progress by the end of 2017” towards meeting a goal they set in 2014 of raising defence spending to two percent of GDP over a decade.

“If you don’t yet have a plan — these are my words, not his (Trump’s) — get one. It is time for actions, not words,” Pence told a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

So far, of the 28 NATO members, only the United States, Britain, Poland, Greece and Estonia have met the two percent target.

“America will do our part but Europe’s defence requires Europe’s commitment as much as ours,” Pence said Monday.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis delivered a similar message at a NATO defence ministers meeting last week, saying Washington could “moderate” its commitment if allies fail to pay up.

Pence, Mattis and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have stuck close to established policy during their first foray into Europe despite Trump’s previous pronouncements.

But they have also been left to cope with their president’s unpredictable remarks, and by a growing scandal over the new White House’s links to Russia.

Pence admitted on Monday he was “disappointed” that former US national security adviser Michael Flynn had given him “inaccurate” information about his contacts with Russia over US sanctions before he resigned last week.

However he said he fully backed Trump’s decision to accept Flynn’s resignation.

‘Very positive’

Pence’s visit came two days after Trump referred, during a rally in Florida, to a non-existent Swedish terror incident and urged people to “look at what’s happening in Brussels” as he listed a series of European cities struck by deadly terror attacks.

Pence said the United States would remain “full partners” with the EU in fighting terrorism, a Trump priority.

He also pledged it would defend Europe’s “territorial integrity” and said the Trump administration will “continue to hold Russia accountable” for the violence in eastern Ukraine and demand that Moscow honour the Minsk agreements for a ceasefire due to begin Monday.

Trump is expected to attend a NATO summit in Brussels at the end of May and he has also been invited to meet EU leaders.

An EU source told AFP that Pence’s meeting with Tusk was “very positive”.

“Will it allay all Europeans fears about Trump? No but it was the best we could have hoped for,” the source added.

‘We pray for you to intervene’: Tutu urges Suu Kyi to help Rohingya

Retired South African cleric and anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu is urging Myanmar leader and fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to intervene to help Rohingya Muslims fleeing her country.

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Western critics have accused Suu Kyi of not speaking out for the Rohingya, who have been fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh, following an army counter-offensive against militant attacks.

On Thursday Tutu said in an open letter to Suu Kyi that: “I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness about the plight of the Muslim minority in your country, the Rohingya.

“My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep … We pray for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people. We pray for you to intervene,” Tutu wrote.

People belonging to the ethnic minority Rohingyas of Myanmar (Burma) cross the Bangladesh border to arrive at the Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh newzulu长沙桑拿按摩论坛,

Tutu, 85, has been living with prostate cancer for nearly two decades and has largely withdrawn from public life.

The Rohingya comprise some 1.1 million people who have long complained of persecution and are seen by many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar as illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

“We have to take care of our citizens, we have to take care of everybody who is in our country, whether or not they are our citizens,” Suu Kyi said earlier on Thursday in comments to Reuters Television’s Indian partner, Asian News International.

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Suu Kyi on Tuesday blamed “terrorists” for “a huge iceberg of misinformation” on the strife in the northwestern state of Rakhine but made no mention of the Rohingya who have fled.

Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 as a champion of democracy, did not refer specifically to the exodus of the minority Rohingya.

She has come under increasing pressure from countries with Muslim populations, and this week UN Security Council Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned there was a risk of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar that could destabilize the region.

0:00 Rohingya demonstration held in Sydney Share Rohingya demonstration held in Sydney

In Washington, the US State Department on Thursday voiced its concern “following serious allegations of human rights abuses including mass burnings of Rohingya villages and violence conducted by security forces and also armed civilians”.

“We urge all in Burma including in the Rakhine state to avoid actions that exacerbate tensions there,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.

The US ambassador has met Myanmar officials to discuss “allegations of violence conducted by both the security forces and civilians” and access for humanitarian groups, she said.

People belonging to the ethnic minority Rohingyas of Myanmar (Burma) cross the Bangladesh border to arrive at the Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, BangladeshAAP

‘We need to wipe out terrorism’

Myanmar has said it is negotiating with China and Russia to ensure they block any Security Council censure over the crisis.

Suu Kyi said the situation in Rakhine has been difficult for many decades and so it was “a little unreasonable” to expect her administration, which has been in power for 18 months, to have resolved it already.

Myanmar says its forces are fighting a legitimate campaign against terrorists responsible for a string of attacks on the police and army since last October. Officials blame Rohingya militants for killing non-Muslims and burning their homes.

“We need to wipe out the threat of the terrorism in those regions,” Ko Ko Hlaing, a presidential adviser of the previous government said on Thursday at a forum arranged by military-owned media to discuss the crisis.

He said rehabilitation and development are important and the citizenship issue must be settled, but the first priority needed to be “the detoxification of dangerous ideology of extremism”.

Suu Kyi’s spokesman, Zaw Htay, on Thursday posted what he said were “photos of Bengalis setting fire to their houses”.

Houses are on fire in Gawdu Zara village, northern Rakhine state, Myanmar, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. AAP

The pictures of several sword-wielding women wearing headscarfs and men in Islamic prayer caps, or “Kufi”, setting a house on fire, which were published in one of the country’s leading newspapers, were also shared widely by the military.

“These photos showing that Bengalis are torching their houses emerge at a time when international media have made groundless accusations of setting fire to Bengali houses by the government security forces and the killings of Bengalis,” said the Eleven Media daily

But the photographs sparked controversy on social media with many people who identified themselves as Myanmar Muslims saying they appeared staged

Exodus could reach 300,000

Rights monitors and Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh say the Myanmar army has been trying to force them out of Rakhine state with a campaign of arson and killings.

Boatloads of exhausted Rohingya continued to arrive in the Cox’s Bazar region of neighboring Bangladesh on Thursday. The latest estimate by UN workers operating there put arrivals in just 13 days at 164,000, up from 146,000 from the day before.

UN officials in Bangladesh now believe the total number of refugees from Myanmar since Aug. 25 could reach 300,000, said Dipayan Bhattacharyya, who is Bangladesh spokesman for the World Food Programme (WFP).

The surge of refugees – many sick or wounded – has strained the resources of aid agencies and communities already helping hundreds of thousands from previous spasms of violence in Myanmar. Many have no shelter, and aid agencies are racing to provide clean water, sanitation and food.

“Many refugees are stranded in no-man’s land between the border with Myanmar,” medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in a statement.

“Even prior to the most recent influx, many Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh lived in unsafe, overcrowded and unhygienic conditions, with little protection from the elements.”

It said more nurses, midwives and doctors had been brought in to tackle violence-related injuries, severely infected wounds and obstetric complications.

The Caribbean islands in the path of Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma has churned through a string of Caribbean islands, many of them famed for their pristine beauty and tropical climes, and threatens others.

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Here are background details about these areas: 

Anguilla

A group of flat and low-lying islands east of Puerto Rico, Anguilla is a self-governing overseas territory of Britain. 

It is small (91 square kilometres/35 square miles) with a population estimated at around 17,000. 

Antigua and Barbuda

These two islands make up the bulk of the English-speaking sovereign state of the same name that includes several other smaller islets. 

About 80,000 of the residents of the former British colony live on the island of Antigua and 1,300 on Barbuda. 

Tourism has replaced sugar production as the mainstay of the economy, which was hit by the 2008 financial crisis. 

The aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in St. Maarten.AAP

Bahamas

A prosperous chain of hundreds of low and flat islands between Cuba and Florida, the Bahamas is a popular stop-off for cruise tourists and also an international banking centre, although in centuries past it was known for piracy. 

The former British colony was granted independence in 1973 and is today home to around 330,000 people. 

Barbados

Lying about 350 kilometres (217 miles) northeast of Venezuela, relatively wealthy Barbados was uninhabited when first settled by the British in the 1600s, becoming independent in 1966. 

Its economy was historically based on the cultivation of sugar, boosted by African slaves, but it too has moved into tourism and offshore banking. 

British Virgin Islands

Just east of Puerto Rico, this English-speaking British overseas territory is home to roughly 28,000 people. Made up of around 50 small islands, including Richard Branson’s Necker Island, it is a tax haven and prized tourist destination. 

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The Spanish-speaking country makes up the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola, lying between Cuba and Puerto Rico, and which it shares with Haiti.

Significantly more prosperous than Haiti, with which its has tense relations, it employs many migrants from its neighbour on its sugar plantations. 

Its population of 10.65 million has benefited from a drop in poverty levels in the past years. Around 30 percent lived below the poverty line in 2016. 

Haiti

One of the poorest countries in the world, this former French colony has yet to recover from a massive earthquake in 2010 that cut it off from the rest of the world for 24 hours and killed over 250,000 people.

The quake left 1.2 million homeless and shattered much of the frail infrastructure of a country wracked by political instability, corruption, with extreme poverty affecting most of its population of 10.4 million. 

Puerto Rico

The former Spanish colony was taken over by the United States at the end of the 19th century but retains a proud cultural identity and its own government. 

High unemployment has contributed to nearly one in 10 of its people leaving over the past decade, while debt of more than $70 billion (58.34 billion euros) has left the island basically bankrupt. 

St Barts

A haven for the rich and famous, the beautiful French-administered territory also known as Saint Barthelemy lies about 2,000 km southeast of Florida. 

A volcanic island surrounded by smaller islets and reefs, it is just 21 sq. kms with a population of 9,500.

Celebrity visitors include Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyonce. 

St Martin/Sint Maarten 

This island of 86 sq. km comprises a French-governed section called St Martin and a smaller Dutch part known as Sint Maarten, a split that dates back to the 17th century. 

More than half of its population of 80,000 live in Sint Maarten, which has its own government and parliament and is also the destination for most of the island’s tourists. 

US President Donald Trump owns a luxury property on the island. 

NOAA’s GOES satellite shows Hurricane Irma as it moves towards the Florida Coast in the Caribbean Sea takenon September 07, 2017.Getty Images

Turks and Caicos

A group of around 30 islands that is home to around 52,500 people, this little-known territory is a self-governing part of the United Kingdom and situated about 1,000 km southeast of the United States, a major tourist market.

Industry distorts alcohol cancer risk

The alcohol industry uses denial, distortion and distraction to mislead people about the risks of developing cancer from drinking, often employing similar tactics to those of the tobacco industry, a study says.

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Drinks industry organisations often present the relationship between alcohol and cancer as highly complex, implying there is no clear evidence of a consistent link, said the study led by scientists at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet.

Other strategies include denying any relationship exists, or saying inaccurately that there is no risk with moderate drinking, the study found. The industry also seeks to mention a wide range of other real and potential cancer risk factors in an effort to present alcohol as just one of many, it added.

Responding to the study, the Distilled Spirits Council, a US alcohol trade association, said it was “a highly selective” review authored by researchers with “anti-alcohol biases”.

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, which represents large brewers and distillers including Anheuser-Busch InBev and Diageo, said it disagreed with the study’s conclusions. “We … stand by the information that we publish on drinking and health,” it said.

The World Health Organisation says drinking alcohol is a well-established risk factor for a range of cancers, including tumours of the mouth, liver, breast and colon and bowel. And the risk of cancer rises with levels of alcohol consumed.

The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review, analysed the information relating to cancer on the websites and documents of nearly 30 alcohol industry organisations around the world between September 2016 and December 2016.

“The weight of scientific evidence is clear – drinking alcohol increases the risk of some of the most common forms of cancer,” said Mark Petticrew, a professor of public Health at the LSHTM who co-led the study.

“It has been argued that greater public awareness, particularly of the risk of breast cancer, poses a significant threat to the alcohol industry. Our analysis suggests that the major global alcohol producers may attempt to mitigate this by disseminating misleading information.”

Petticrew’s team identified three main industry strategies: Denying any link with cancer, or selective omission of the relationship; distortion by mentioning some risk of cancer, but misrepresenting or obfuscating its size; and distraction by seeking to draw focus away from the risks of alcohol and towards other cancer risks.

One of the most significant findings was that industry materials omitted or misrepresented evidence on breast and bowel cancer, both of which are linked to drinking. When breast cancer was mentioned, 21 of the organisations studied gave no, or misleading, information about it, the study said.

Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said the study “clearly shows the alcohol industry misleading the public”.

New mums uncertain about vaccination

First-time mothers are twice as likely to be hesitant about vaccinating their babies compared to mothers already with children, new research has found.

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A study of nearly 1000 new mums from Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia also found that just two-thirds of new mums believed they had received enough information on vaccines during their pregnancy.

Alarmingly, 16 per cent of first time mothers believed that vaccines can cause autism even though that myth has been debunked.

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Lead researcher Dr Margie Danchin at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute says what the concerning findings show is that glossy information leaflets are not enough to improve vaccination uptake.

The general pediatrician at the Royal Children’s Hospital says first-time mums need to be having a conversation about vaccines with a trusted health care provider early on in pregnancy.

“We know now from a wealth of literature and evidence that information alone is not enough, its having a discussion where the fear of the mother is understood,” said Dr Danchin.

“Midwives or obstetricians should start having these conversations with mums early and more than once hopefully.”

Researchers recruited the study participants at four major public hospitals across the three states and they were initially asked to fill out a questionnaire at hospital. They were again quizzed about vaccines three to six months post-delivery.

According to the paper, published in journal Vaccine, 73 per cent of first time-mums had made a decision about vaccinating their child, compared to 89 per cent of mums who already had kids.

“First time mums are much more undecided about vaccinating their child compared to mums with kids, so that was one of the key findings,” said Dr Danchin.

Six per cent said they had never heard about vaccination and only half of mothers said they accessed information about vaccines.

“There was a very strong message around mums not having conversations with their health care provider enough; not having them early enough and not having them in enough detail to actually address their concerns,” said Dr Danchin.

The survey also found many of the pregnant women had not been vaccinated against serious and potentially deadly diseases, especially in the young.

Less than half (46 per cent) of the mums had reported having received the influenza vaccine and 82 per cent said they had had the pertussis or whooping cough vaccine.

“But what was interesting was that a mum was three-and-a-half times more likely to get a whooping cough vaccine and three times more likely to get a flu shot … if they had a recommendation from their health care provider,” said Dr Danchin.

Dior, Gucci among fashion giants to ban size 0 models

Two of the world’s biggest luxury goods conglomerates say they want to protect the health of fashion models by making those who are unhealthily thin ineligible to work.

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The pact adopted by French corporations LVMH and Kering incorporates – and goes beyond – a new French law that requires all models to provide medical certificates proving they are healthy before they can work.

While the French law set to take effect October 1 requires both male and female models to present a health certificate obtained within the previous two years, LVMH and Kering said their charter would shorten the time frame to six months of the job.

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The pact also bans the conglomerates’ labels from using female models below a French women’s size 34, which is typically equivalent to a US size 0-2 and a UK size 6. The French law initially included a minimum body mass index requirement, but it was removed after MPs deemed the doctor’s certificate an adequate safeguard.

The fashion companies’ said their agreement would take effect this month, in time for the spring-summer ready-to-wear runway collections.

The two giants’ fashion houses include Dior, Kenzo, Stella McCartney, Saint Laurent, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and others.

Unlike the French law, the charter also will apply to the international Kering and LVMH brands with runway collections presented in Milan, London and New York. The two groups said they hoped to set a new global standard for the fashion industry.

“We hope to inspire the entire industry to follow suit, thus making a real difference in the working conditions of fashion models industry-wide,” Kering boss Francois-Henri Pinault said in a statement.

In addition, the charter requires each brand to put a dedicated psychologist at the disposal of fashion models during working hours – either by phone or in person in the work place.

 

Improved Bangladesh hope for more tours

Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim hopes his side will get more opportunities to face Australia after proving themselves worthy adversaries during their tied Test series.

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Derided for so many years as cricketing minnows, Bangladesh underscored their status as a nation on the rise when they claimed their first Test victory over Australia in Dhaka.

The hosts fell short in Chittagong, losing the second Test by seven wickets after Nathan Lyon snared career-best figures of 13-154.

It was nonetheless another impressive series for Bangladesh, who have also claimed maiden Test wins over England and Sri Lanka within the past 18 months.

Australia’s first visit to Bangladesh since 2006 was conducted under enormous security after fears of a terrorist attack led to a scheduled tour being cancelled in 2015.

The outcome was testimony to the extensive planning by both teams but also a reminder that Bangladesh have become a formidable opponent on home wickets.

“Probably, (Australia) hadn’t thought that it would be difficult like this,” Mushfiqur said.

“I think the boys from our side, they put up their hands in the past especially and did really well.

“In the last 12 months we beat England and Australia so hopefully, if we can have more opportunities to play against these teams, I think we can also learn a lot of things.

“Hopefully the ICC will look at this.”

Mushfiqur’s side will have their credentials further tested when they tour South Africa before hosting Sri Lanka over the next six months.

Bangladesh continue to build depth but none of their players are as important as Shakib Al Hasan, the world’s No.1 ranked allrounder.

Shakib claimed man of the match honours in Dhaka with a first innings top score of 84 and 10 wickets as Bangladesh claimed a famous 20-run victory.

Menzel will address his AFL flaws: agent

Axed forward Daniel Menzel will draw on his resilience built up over four knee reconstructions to force his way back into Geelong’s AFL side.

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The 25-year-old has been dropped for the Cats’ qualifying final against Richmond on Friday despite kicking 38 goals in 17 games this season.

Given Menzel is off contract at season’s end, the surprise omission by coach Chris Scott adds uncertainty to his future after being linked with a move home to South Australia.

Menzel knows he needs to improve on forward pressure, according to his agent Adam Ramanauskas.

“He’s disappointed … but at the same time there’s still a lot of football to be played in September,” Ramanauskas told Melbourne radio station RSN on Friday.

“He knows he’s got to work on that defensive side of the game. He’s prepared to do that.

“Of course he was (surprised), absolutely. Any person would be surprised when they’re dropped when they’ve kicked 38 goals in 17 games for the season.

“He’s got to take it on the chin.”

Menzel is no stranger to setbacks.

He has overcome four knee reconstructions, playing no football between 2012 and 2014, 35 games in the past two seasons from a career total of 58.

“He’s got a great attitude,” Ramanauskas said.

“After coming back from four knee reconstructions, of course he’s going to have a great attitude.”

Scott said last month that they would like to keep Menzel, adding the club tabled a two-year deal earlier this year.

The parties mutually decided to put the contract issue to one side until the season was over.

Menzel was named as an emergency for Friday night’s blockbuster.

Palaszczuk lauds Gold Coast Logies win

And the Logies go to – the Gold Coast.

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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she’s secured a major win over her Victorian counterpart after it was confirmed TV’s night-of-nights will be held in the Sunshine State for the next four years.

The awards will be held at The Star casino from next July.

The Victorian government announced on Monday it was ending decades of support for the annual awards night, claiming the event didn’t represent value for money.

Ms Palaszczuk believes that sentiment is purely sour grapes after being gazumped by her government.

“I think they’re just a bit upset frankly,” she said after the announcement on Friday.

“Just wait until you see the flow-on impacts, Queensland will be showcased … it’s the Gold Coast, it’s Star (casino), it’s everything that our state has to offer.”

Ms Palaszczuk estimates the deal will bring $40 million to Queensland over the four years, confirming promotion of the state through television and other mediums was a factor of the agreement.

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate, who on Monday said the Logies would be a perfect fit by welcoming a “tacky industry” to a “tacky city”, had changed his tune on Friday.

“You know I like doing cut-throughs, and now that we’re awarded this prestigious event, it’s come to a prestigious city,” Cr Tate said.

Channel Nine host Karl Stefanovic was outspoken in his criticism of the decision to move the Logies from Victoria, a stance he repeated when pressed by Ms Palaszczuk on the Today Show.

“I am not one of these people, Premier, who floats with the breeze on this,” Mr Stefanovic said.

“(Victorian premier) Daniel Andrews had an absolute shock losing it, you must feel like you have picked up a coup.”

TV Week editor Emma Nolan believed Mr Stefanovic would come around to the idea, and believed celebrities will embrace the new location for the awards.

“Of course Karl’s going to be on the red carpet,” Ms Nolan told AAP.

“They’ll all love it. I can see coming up here and not just staying for one night but staying for a few days, bringing their families. It’s a great way to showcase the state.”

‘Borg/McEnroe’ rivalry movie kicks off Toronto festival

 

“Borg/McEnroe” stars Shia LaBeouf as fiery U.

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S. tennis star John McEnroe and Sverrir Gudnason as cool Swedish champion Björn Borg, whose epic matches in the 1980s set the world of tennis alight.

“Their rivalry had something universal that transcended the sport,” director Janus Metz told a news conference. “It had deep existential questions about how two people could drive themselves above and beyond.”

LaBeouf, 31, in his first big movie since a string of arrests for drunken or disorderly behavior in the past three years, acknowledged that he shared some of McEnroe’s hot-headed personality.

“Acting is like athletics – ordinary men with extraordinary effort putting themselves out there,” the actor said, calling McEnroe the “bad Santa” of the tennis world.

“Borg/McEnroe” is not the only film getting a Toronto showcase whose drama plays out on the tennis court. Emma Stone, in her first movie since winning an Oscar for musical “La La Land” in February, plays Billie Jean King as she fought 1970s sexism and faced off against Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) in “Battle of the Sexes.”

The Toronto festival has become one of the most important stops for filmmakers looking to showcase their work in the long Hollywood awards season that culminates with the Oscars, on March 4 next year. The slate this year has been trimmed to 260 from around 300 in 2016.

The festival’s chief executive, Piers Handling, said this year’s line-up reflected a “fascination with people at the top, people who have sacrificed everything.”

Other movies featuring personal struggles include the world premieres of “Stronger,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a man who lost both his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and “Kings” in which Halle Berry plays a woman trying to protect her brood of children during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Other films on offer include “Suburbicon,” a George Clooney-directed satire tackling racial prejudice in 1950s America, and Darren Aronofsky’s horror movie “mother!”, starring Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence.

Angelina Jolie brings her film “First They Killed My Father” about the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia to Toronto, while “Darkest Hour” stars Gary Oldman as British World War Two Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

 

 

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp and Chris Arsenault; Editing by Grant McCool and Leslie Adler)

APRA panel appointed for CBA probe

The three members appointed by Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) are former APRA chairman Dr John Laker, former competition watchdog chairman Prof Graeme Samuel, and company director and former Reserve Bank of Australia board member Jillian Broadbent.

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“APRA is pleased to have secured the services of three highly experienced and credentialed panel members to conduct the prudential inquiry,” APRA chairman Wayne Byres said in a statement on Friday.

The panel will submit a progress report to APRA by January 31, 2018 and a final report by April 30, 2018.

Mr Byres announced the inquiry in August, following a civil suit filed by the federal government’s financial intelligence unit, AUSTRAC.

AUSTRAC alleges that CBA had breached money-laundering and terrorism-financing laws by failing to provide on-time reports.

The inquiry aims to identify any shortcomings in the governance, culture and accountability frameworks and practices within the Commonwealth Bank, and make recommendations on how to address them.

The inquiry’s terms of reference say that the panel should not make specific determinations regarding matters currently the subject of legal proceedings, other regulatory reviews or investigations by regulators other than APRA, or customers’ individual cases.

APRA will provide support to the inquiry panel and may obtain other external expertise and advice.

Jillian Broadbent is a former board member of the Reserve Bank of Australia, is on the board of Woolworths, is chair of Swiss Re Life and Health Australia, and chancellor of the University of Wollongong.

Dr John Laker is a former APRA chairman, chairman of The Banking and Finance Oath Ltd, a council member of the University of Technology Sydney, and a director of Cancer Council NSW.

He is also an external expert for the International Monetary Fund and has participated in reviews of banking systems and supervisory arrangements in the US, Israel, Indonesia, and Europe.

Prof Graeme Samuel is a former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a professorial fellow in Monash University’s Business School, chair of the Monash Business School Business advisory board, and a councillor of the Australian National University.