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May 31, 2014

University go to top spot on 2014 Sunshine Coast Rugby Union ladder after five rounds

University go to top spot on 2014 Sunshine Coast Rugby Union ladder after five rounds

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

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University coach Steve Scotland talking to the media.
Video: Patrick Gillett.

Noosa coach Michael Phelan speaking to media.
Video: Patrick Gillett.

Footage from the game.
Video: Patrick Gillett.

University have beaten Noosa today 15 points to 13 to take top spot on Australia‘s Sunshine Coast Rugby Union ladder a third of the way through the season.

“This wasn’t a goal for us but we’ll take that,” said University coach Steve Scotland to news media.

Noosa went ahead at ten minutes with a penalty goal. They conceded a try and the lead six minutes later. Uni would relinquish the lead for the remainder of the half.

The second half had seven minutes of added time due to injuries. Noosa opened the half’s scoring at twenty minutes, going ahead 13–12 with an unconverted try. University scored a penalty goal nine minutes later. 15–13 Uni.

A late Noosa surge was successfully repelled in the final twenty minutes with the referee signalling full time at six minutes to five local time (0654 UTC).



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May 28, 2014

Second sinkhole appears in Australian city this week

Filed under: Archived,Australia — admin @ 5:00 am

Second sinkhole appears in Australian city this week

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

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Two sinkholes have opened near the Australian northern coastal city of Newcastle, New South Wales, in the last two days. The first appeared yesterday with another opening today, both developing by houses on Lambton Parade in the suburb of Swansea Heads.

File photo of Newcastle Harbour
Image: Tim J Keegan.

The first sinkhole measured around twenty metres across and ten metres deep, while the second sinkhole was much smaller, measuring around two metres across. The first hole swallowed tonnes of material in two hours next to a married couple’s home before they returned to discover it.

The street is over a coal mine abandoned in 1950s and this appears to be contributing to the instability of the land.

The Mine Subsidence Board is investigating the two sinkholes and safety of other homes in the area. Dozens of homes have been built over the mine since its closure. The house involved in the first, larger sinkhole dates from the 1990s, making it relatively new on the street, and the damage to it may be fixable, according to mine subsidence board members.

Sinkholes can occur naturally when bedrock erodes due to acidic rainwater seeping from the surface, or, as in this case, they can occur when houses are built on top of old mines.



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Pope invites Palestinian and Israeli presidents to mutual prayer at Vatican

Filed under: Archived,Middle East,Palestine,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Pope invites Palestinian and Israeli presidents to mutual prayer at Vatican

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

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On Sunday, during Pope Francis’ visit to the Middle East which lasted three days, he invited the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli president Shimon Peres to join him for a mutual prayer at his home in the Vatican.

In a Mass given in Manger Square of Bethlehem Pope Francis told crowds,”Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment. The men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace.”

Pope Francis started his visit in Jordan and from there he continued to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. In Bethlehem he met with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority, as well as leading Mass in the crowded Manger Square. He unexpectedly stopped near the concrete separation wall between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, at a spot sprayed with graffiti, got out of his vehicle, and touched the wall with his forehead.

Regarding the peace process, Pope Francis emphasized that peace “must resolutely be pursued, even if each side has to make certain sacrifices”. He explained that the situation today is “increasingly unacceptable”.

Cquote1.svg [Peace] must resolutely be pursued, even if each side has to make certain sacrifices Cquote2.svg

—Pope Francis

The Pope said Palestinians and Israelis each have the right to recognition of their state, calling for “the acknowledgement by all of the right of two states to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.”

After his visit to the West Bank the Pope journeyed to Tel Aviv where he was welcomed by Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister. The Pope continued from there to Jerusalem to visit the Western Wall, the most holy site to the Jewish people, while he was escorted by an Argentine rabbi and the leader of the Muslim community of Argentina.

The Pope also visited holocaust memorial site Yad Vashem, and by the request of Benjamin Netanyahu he visited too a monument to the victims of terrorism.

The Pope’s 55-hour trip included over 30 events. The Pope is 77 years old.

Both the Israeli President and the Palestinian Authority President have agreed to meet the Pope at the Vatican next month.



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May 24, 2014

University defeat Maroochydore in round four of 2014 Sunshine Coast Rugby Union season

University defeat Maroochydore in round four of 2014 Sunshine Coast Rugby Union season

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Uni v Maroochydore 24-5-2014.JPG A ruck.
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Uni v Maroochydore 24-5-2014 2.JPG A line out.
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Uni v Maroochydore 24-5-2014 3.JPG A scrum.
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Highlights from this contest
Video: Patrick Gillett.

Uni v Maroochydore 24-5-2014 try on full time.JPG University score a try on full time v Maroochydore.
Image: Patrick Gillett.
May 24, 2014
University 64
Maroochydore 0
University of the Sunshine Coast
Sippy Downs, Queensland
Australia

University has defeated Maroochydore 64 points to 0 in their round 4 Sunshine Coast Rugby Union match today at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Australia.

University went ahead at five minutes with an unconverted try. It was another four minutes until they scored another try, converting this one. University’s third try came at the half hour mark with the corresponding conversion taking the score to 19–0.

The half would wrap up with University scoring two tries, converting one.

It took about four minutes for University to open the scoring in the second half. They scored a converted try to take the score to 38–0.

Maroochydore had two players sent of within two minutes of each other. This provided a two-man advantage to University for eight minutes. They scored two tries in this time.

Two converted tries finished off the game at 64 points to 0 in University’s favor.



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Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend Modi inauguration

Filed under: Archived,India — admin @ 5:00 am

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend Modi inauguration

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Official image of Nawaz Sharif in 2013.
Image: Z A Balti.

Official image of Narendra Modi in 2013 (cropped).
Image: Narendra Modi.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has today announced he will attend Monday’s swearing-in ceremony of India’s next Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. In the history of India-Pakistan bilateral relations, the leader of one country has not visited the swearing-in ceremony of a leader of the other since 1947, when the two countries became independent.

“It is good news that [Sharif] is visiting India”, said Raashid Alvi, the Indian opposition party Indian National Congress leader; “It is an opportunity to hold meeting with him and important issues should be raised.” Prakash Javadekar, spokesperson for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, said, “It is very good news that Nawaz Sharif has accepted Modi’s invitation. This will mark a start of a new relationship between India and Pakistan”.

The swearing-in ceremony is to be held on May 26 at the Presidential Palace Rashtrapati Bhavan with possibly 3000 guests expected in attendance.



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May 23, 2014

Chinese government prohibits use of Windows 8, cites security concerns

Filed under: Archived,China — admin @ 5:00 am

Chinese government prohibits use of Windows 8, cites security concerns

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Friday, May 23, 2014

China
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China’s Central Government Procurement Center, citing Microsoft’s shutdown of Windows XP security support on April 8, issued a notice this week banning use of the Windows 8 operating system (OS) on new desktops, laptops and tablets by government agencies. Personal machines are not affected by the ban.

The Windows XP shutdown comes thirteen years after the launch of XP, and deprives XP users of ongoing security updates against attacks by hackers and computer viruses.

As Windows XP still enjoys wide use in China, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua has stated “The Chinese government obviously cannot ignore the risks of running OS without guaranteed technical support”, in response to the shutdown. “It has moved to avoid the awkwardness of being confronted with a similar situation again in future if it continues to purchase computers with foreign OS.” According to a Microsoft spokesperson, the ban from China also includes an online message prohibiting bids from Windows 8 for government contracts.

Microsoft has officially responded to the notice and expressed their desire to continue providing assistance in reaching a solution. “Microsoft has been working proactively with the Central Government Procurement Center and other government agencies through the evaluation process to ensure that our products and services meet all government procurement requirements”, said a Microsoft spokesperson. Microsoft has also reportedly said their earlier operating systems such as Windows 7 would still be made available to the Chinese government.

Chinese software security companies have offered their assistance in maintaining security standards for Windows XP following Miscrosoft’s shutdown. Xinhua reported Linux based operating systems are in development for the Chinese market, and the announcement presents business opportunities for those working in the information technology sector.



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May 20, 2014

Pennsylvania court strikes down same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional

Pennsylvania court strikes down same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Judge John E. Jones III
Image: U.S. District Court Official Portrait.

A federal court struck down as unconstitutional Pennsylvania‘s 1996 law banning same-sex marriage today. Judge John E. Jones III has ordered the state to start issuing licenses for same-sex couples.

The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in July of last year. Lawyers argued the state’s ban violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, did not attempt to defend the ban, and has said she considers the law unconstitutional. Kane said today’s decision “brings justice to Pennsylvanians who have suffered from unequal protection under the law because of their sexual orientation”.

Pennsylvania’s governor, Tom Corbett, has not thus far responded to the ruling.

The decision in Pennsylvania followed a similar decision yesterday in Oregon striking down that state’s marriage ban. Courts in a number of other states including Arkansas, Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah have found state-level bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, although some of these decisions have not led to gay, lesbian and bisexual couples being able to marry while appeals are ongoing.



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May 19, 2014

North Korean singer thought executed appears on state television

Filed under: Archived,North Korea — admin @ 5:00 am

North Korean singer thought executed appears on state television

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Monday, May 19, 2014

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Hyon Song-wol, a singer who was reportedly connected to Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, has made an appearance on state television Friday, contradicting reports she was executed last year by firing squad.

The singer appeared speaking at a national art workers rally in Pyongyang. She expressed her support for Kim’s governance and her dedication to help “stoke up the flame for art and creative work”.

Hyon was first reported dead in August last year by South Korean newspapers, among them Chosun Ilbo with reported ties to South Korean intelligence services. She was reportedly executed along with eleven other performers for creating and distributing sex tapes of themselves, including performers from Unhasu Orchestra, the Wangjaesan Light Music Band, and the Moranbong Band.

Reports suggested Hyon had run afoul of Kim’s wife, Ri Sol-ju. A report attributed to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun stated Hyon and the other performers were executed to suppress rumors Ri had behaved decadently during her time as an entertainer.

News of Hyon’s execution was supported last October by Nam Jae-Joon, the director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, who reportedly expressed awareness of an execution, according to two South Korean MPs, during a closed parliamentary session: “We are aware of the execution of some ten people associated with the Unhasu Orchestra.” Reports said the execution was witnessed, as a mandatory lesson, by bands pioneering the “new wave” of music that rose to prominence in the country following the ascension of Kim Jong-un to North Korean leadership.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency of North Korea, disputed such reports, describing them as “unpardonable” and a “hideous provocation hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership”, further denouncing the South Korean government officials and journalists who issued them as “psychopaths” and “confrontational maniacs”. During that time, North Korean radio broadcast an Unhasu Orchestra performance, seemingly to disprove the reports, but Hyon’s execution was not disproved.

Prior to her supposed execution, Hyon had enjoyed popularity in North Korea; her songs included “The Footsteps of Soldiers”, “I Love Pyongyang”, and, notably, “Excellent Horse Like Lady”. All three songs contained patriotic themes. Purportedly, Hyon was Kim Jong-un’s girlfriend some years ago, but the relationship ended due to disapproval by Kim Jong-un’s father, then-Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il and she later married and had a child with an army officer.



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May 18, 2014

Bank of England governor warns housing market is biggest threat to UK economy

Bank of England governor warns housing market is biggest threat to UK economy

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mark Carney in 2010.
Image: World Economic Forum.

United Kingdom
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The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has warned that the state of the housing market in the United Kingdom is the current biggest domestic threat to the country’s economy, due to lack of house building, and regulatory issues.

In an interview to be aired on Sky News today, he said the housing market is the “biggest risk” to the economy and has “deep, deep structural problems”. Of house building he said: “There are not sufficient houses built in the UK. To go back to Canada, there are half as many people in Canada as in the UK, twice as many houses are built every year in Canada as in the UK and we can’t influence that.”

“We’re not going to build a single house at the Bank of England. We can’t influence that. What we can influence […] is whether the banks are strong enough. Do they have enough capital against risk in the housing market?”

Carney also said the Bank of England would look into the procedures used to issue loans and mortgages to see if they were being granted appropriately: “We’d be concerned if there was a rapid increase in high loan-to-value mortgages across the banks. We’ve seen that creeping up and it’s something we’re watching closely.”

Kris Hopkins responded to Carney on behalf of the government, saying the government “inherited a broken housing market, but our efforts to fix it are working”. “We’ve scrapped the failed top-down planning system, built over 170,000 affordable homes and released more surplus brownfield sites for new housing. We’ve also helped homebuyers get on the housing ladder, because if people can buy homes builders will build them. Housebuilding is now at its highest level since 2007 and climbing. Last year councils gave permission for almost 200,000 new homes under the locally-led planning system and more than 1,000 communities have swiftly taken up neighbourhood planning. It’s clear evidence the government’s long-term economic plan is working.”

Earlier this month, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development called on the UK government to “tighten” access to the ‘Help to Buy‘ scheme introduced by George Osborne and the coalition government in 2013. ‘Help to Buy’ has also recently been criticised by three former Chancellors of the Exchequer — the Conservatives Norman Lamont and Nigel Lawson, and former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling. Darling said: “Unless supply can be increased substantially, we will exacerbate that situation with schemes like Help to Buy.”



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May 17, 2014

BJP\’s Narendra Modi elected new prime minister of India

BJP’s Narendra Modi elected new prime minister of India

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

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Official image of Narendra Modi in 2013.
Image: Narendra Modi.

Power in India is set to transfer to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the leader Narendra Modi following an election in the world’s largest democracy. The ruling Congress Party conceded defeat yesterday and BJP are set to win a healthy majority of seats. The success for the Hindu nationalist party in the election tracks predicted results from exit polls.

Following the victory, Modi posted on social networking site Twitter “India has won. Good days are about to come”. He then visited his mother to seek her blessing: he touched her feet, she put a vermillion mark on his head and gave him sweets. Thereafter, Modi travelled from his home in the Indian state of Gujarat to Delhi. In Delhi, a victory parade was held for Modi.

Conceding defeat, Sonia Gandhi from the Congress Party said: “We humbly respect the verdict of the people.”

US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron have both congratulated Modi and invited him to visit Washington and London respectively. Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, said BJP had won an “impressive victory”.

Modi has been Gujarat chief minister since 2001. Modi has been controversial since a violent riot erupted in Gujarat in 2002 which led to the death of about a thousand people, primarily Muslims. Modi’s critics allege he let the inter-religious violence happen without much effort to stop it. He was subsequently denied visas to travel to the United States, and the United Kingdom cut ties with him.

In 2012, a Special Investigations Team appointed by the Indian Supreme Court found no evidence for Modi’s role in the violence. Following this, the British high commissioner in India decided to reconnect with Modi and invite him to visit London to address the House of Commons. The United States has warmed up to Modi again and in February he met with Nancy Powell, the US ambassador to India. During the elections, Modi attempted to reassure Muslims that he would protect all religious groups in India, telling The Times of India: “I’ve to run the government. Governments run on the basis of Constitution. I believe a government has one religion and that’s India First”.

The outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released a statement: “As I have said on many occasions, my life and tenure in public office are an open book. I have always tried to do my best in serving this great nation of ours. In the last ten years, we as a country have seen many successes and achievements that we should be proud of. Today, India is a far stronger country in every respect than it was a decade ago.”



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