Saturday, September 01, 2007

F Troop, Sydney during APEC under NSW ALP

* APEC Security fence erected
* NSW is not losing an experienced Police Comissioner, ALP is losing a junior minister.
* Andrew John's sordid drug culture excused
* Beslan should not be forgotten (n.b. Rudd)
* ALP launches expensive campaign on something or other that already attracted funding.
* Warmest August in 150 years, according to some narrow measures not in accordance with reality


Anonymous said...

Warmest August in 150 years
By Joel Christie
LAST week's warm weather may make it hard to believe but Spring actually starts today.

As we farewelled the last of winter yesterday, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) revealed it had recorded its highest average August minimum night temperatures in more than 150 years.

BOM senior forecaster Peter Zmijewski said the warm nights were a result of overcast conditions.

"From the beginning of (August) we have been having windy and cloudy nights that have kept the temperatures up," he said.

And the warm weather wasn't contained to daylight hours, with the state experiencing its hottest August nights since 1859, with an average minimum temperature of 11.7C.

Last Wednesday was the warmest August Sydney night in five years, with a minimum of 17C.

And the hot nights weren't confined to Sydney, with Canberra - known for its big chill - recording its warmest August ever.

According to weather group, the nation's capital averaged a maximum temperature of 15C.

Canberra recorded its highest August temperature on Tuesday with the mercury hitting 22C, while its average night temperatures were 3C above average.

This made it Canberra's warmest August since records began in 1939, Weatherzone said.

"Although there have been years with higher August maximum temperatures and higher August minimum temperatures, this year has had the highest overall temperature when the two are combined," the meteorologist Matt Pearce said.

"It can be put down to a combination of consistently warm nights throughout the month and a spell of particularly warm days over the last week," he explained.

Simon French yesterday enjoyed a few pre-season laps of the iconic Andrew Boy Charlton Pool in Sydney, which officially reopens today to coincide with the start of spring.

And the conditions for socking away the winter woollies will be very fair today with average temperatures across the state to move into the mid-20s.

The fair weather continues with fine and mostly sunny conditions forecast for Father's Day tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Poutin' Putin plants one on a sturgeon
POLITICIANS love to be shown kissing babies, but Russian President Vladimir Putin took on an altogether more slippery customer yesterday by puckering up for a fish.

The Kremlin leader, who is due to step down at the end of his second term next March, looked every bit the seasoned campaigner when he lifted the sturgeon at a fish farm in southern Russia and gave the creature a peck on the head.

Onlookers at the farm in Selo Ikryanoye, near Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea, applauded when Mr Putin then dropped the sturgeon into the sea.

The fish farm is part of efforts to regenerate the Caspian's endangered sturgeons, prized for their tiny black eggs used to make caviar.

Anonymous said...

We all let Joey down: Matt
By Iain Payten
"DID I know that my brother was doing drugs occasionally? Early on I suspected and, yes, not long after I knew.

"When I questioned if I should seriously intervene, I took the gutless option and reminded myself that he was playing magical football and any cracks or problems would surely appear there if there was an issue. Problem was there was an issue.''

With these words, Matthew Johns yesterday gave the most personal account yet of his brother Andrew's battle with drink, drugs and depression.

His candid account came as key Newcastle Knights figures tried to distance themselves from a bombshell allegation they knew of their star player's problems for years - and did nothing about it.

Following Johns' confessions on Thursday, Newcastle doctor Neil Halpin yesterday admitted he had treated the NRL star for drugs, alcohol and depression since 2002.

In a statement released under the Knights letterhead, and with Johns' approval, Dr Halpin said he had helped in the management of the footballer's substance abuse.

He also said the club knew of Johns' problems. "Over the years the Newcastle Knights have tried to support Andrew with these problems but I am not certain to what extent they have been aware of their severity," Dr Halpin said.

Former Newcastle coach Michael Hagan last night admitted he also knew of Johns' problem, but denied nothing was done to help him.

"Any suggestions that anyone within the Newcastle organisation knew of his drug taking and depression but did not take due responsibility is totally false," Hagan writes in today's The Weekend Australian.

"He certainly confided in me about his depression and his problems with alcohol. In regard to his drug-taking, I assumed or feared this may have been a problem but was always hopeful that the rumours were false."

New Newcastle boss Steve Burraston yesterday promised an investigation into what action, or otherwise, was taken by the club.

"Certainly in any organisation I think that if you ignore something you condone it and you don't want people to condone any of that sort of behaviour in your club. I hope that's not what we find," Burraston said.

Former Newcastle administrators and coaching staff yesterday denied knowledge of Johns' drug issues.

Former Knights chief executive Ken Conway said he knew nothing. "I certainly have no proof of any drug use in the club while I was there," Conway said.

After baring his soul the day before, Johns was yesterday not commenting as he had breakfast with his fiancee Cathrine Mahoney at a cafe in Potts Point.

When asked about his plans, the star only shook his head and offered a terse smile and repeated "no" several times.

In a bid to escape the spotlight since revelations of his arrest in London for ecstasy possession were revealed, Johns is today expected to join a small group of friends at boutique winery Tatler Wines, tucked away in Lovedale, not far from the town of Polkolbin.

Anonymous said...

Labor launches big fat election plan
LABOR today promised another $5.2 million to fund ways to tackle the national obesity crisis, including a community information campaign promoting exercise and healthy eating

Opposition health spokeswoman Nicola Roxon said the obesity epidemic was a community-wide problem, which needed to involve parents, industry, schools and government.

Ms Roxon, in Canberra for the Obesity Society conference today, said these measures built on Labor's strong commitment to providing better community health care.

Under plans announced today, $1.7 million will be spent on research into successful obesity programs and $3.5 million to develop and distribute guidelines on healthy eating and physical activity for young children.

Ms Roxon said that would complement Labor's commitment of 15 hours' early childhood education for all four-year-olds.

"We think this is a great time to start encouraging children to develop healthy habits and relationships with food and exercise," she said.

Ms Roxon said it was known that the number of obese people was increasing and one in four children were obese or overweight.

"There are projections that over 30 per cent of the community will be obese by 2025 if we don't take some serious intervention," she said.

"This is going to be a major health problem of the future. It already is a major health problem and governments have to play their part in helping assist parents, in changing some of the facilities in the community and in supporting those communities that are coming up with solutions themselves."

Ms Roxon said exercise, as proposed by federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, wasn't enough.

"It is a real problem that Tony Abbott, because he believes the answer is simply to get on the bike and exercise, that that's the answer for everybody else," she said.

"That is not adequate. We need a whole of government approach."

Dr Tim Gill, executive officer of the Obesity Society, said the organisation was heartened that obesity was now being taken seriously at a political level.

"It is an extremely important public health problem that is going to require a lot more action and attention and investment from governments," he said.

"We are looking forward to some more initiatives being launched as well, not just by the Labor Party but by all parties."

Anonymous said...

APEC concrete security fence rises across city
By Michael Perry
CONSTRUCTION of a concrete and wire security fence that will cut central Sydney in half began today as part of the nation's biggest security operation for next week's Asia-Pacific leaders' summit.

The 5km fence will isolate the leaders, who include US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the Sydney Opera House and surrounding hotels.

Thousands of protesters, demonstrating against the Iraq war and global warming, plan to rally in Sydney during the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) meetings.

"Right now, there's one priority, there's one show in town and that's APEC," NSW state police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said today.

"APEC must be delivered. It's the biggest security event we've ever had in this nation," he said.

Police expect the protests to be violent and have barred 29 known protesters from the centre of Sydney and warned demonstrators not to march near the APEC summit venue.

"Our police, particularly in APEC, are not there to be punching bags, they are not there to be spat upon, they are not there to be assaulted," Mr Scipione said.

"If people do that, our police will act appropriately, but they will be very decisive, it will be very rapid," he said.

While Australian security officials say they have received no intelligence of a terrorist threat to APEC, they have launched the country's biggest ever security operation.

Australia's counter-terrorism alert remains unchanged at medium.

Australia, a staunch US ally, has never suffered a major peace-time attack on home soil, although 92 Australians were among more than 220 people killed in bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali in 2002 and 2005.

The Australian Government has spent $169 million in the past six years preparing APEC security.

A total of 21 leaders are to attend the APEC leaders' meeting on September 8-9, along with spouses and 5000 APEC delegates.

Fortress Sydney

Many Sydneysiders have criticised APEC security, saying it will turn Sydney's inner city into a fortress, with people asked for IDs and bag searches.

A total of 3500 police and 1500 defence force will be patrolling Sydney.

A 45 nautical-mile restricted air space will be enforced by fighter aircraft and police helicopters. A navy mine sweeper will patrol Sydney Harbour, along with navy divers, water police and special forces.

The city's underground railway network will be closed during the APEC weekend and motorists have been warned to stay out of the city as many roads will be closed.

The 2.8m-high security fence, dubbed by critics as Sydney's "Great Wall of APEC", will cut off the northern part of the central business district.

"As people move in and through the city from today, they should leave plenty of time to get to their destination," NSW deputy premier John Watkins said today.

"There will be delays walking and catching public transport especially around the northern part of the prepared for travel to take longer than normal."

Mr Bush has apologised to Sydneysiders for any inconvenience his visit and APEC will cause.

"I'm looking forward to the beautiful city and to the extent I inconvenience (Sydneysiders), I apologise," Mr Bush told Australian television yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Russia can never forget Beslan, says Putin
By Amie Ferris-Rotman in Moscow
PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin said today Russia could not forget the "children who would never go to school again", recalling hundreds killed when troops stormed a school seized by Chechen rebels three years ago.

Kremlin envoy Dmitry Kozak reassured families of victims a solid investigation was being carried out into the handling of the siege, Russian local media reported.

Any officials found negligent would face trial, he said.

Gunmen seized more than 1000 children and parents attending a ceremony in Beslan to mark the new school year in September 2004.

A total of 333 hostages - half of them children - died in the siege, which ended with a chaotic rescue attempt.

Mr Kozak, presidential envoy to southern Russia, and Boris Gryzlov from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, sought to quell fears of the Beslan Mothers committee, set up by the dead children's mothers to demand justice for the tragedy in Beslan.

“A huge amount of work has been done, and it is unprecedented,” Russian news agency Interfax quoted Mr Kozak as saying in Beslan.

"Actions of every soldier have been analysed."

For the first day of school in Russia, Mr Putin visited a school in the south Russian city of Astrakhan where he spoke of Beslan, according to film broadcast by Russian state television.

“Even though today is a bright and festive day, we can't forget about the tragedy a few years ago and the children who will never go to school again,” Mr Putin, who is to step down after a March 2008 presidential election, told young students.

Great tragedy

Witnesses in Beslan have said they saw Russian forces fire at the school, something Russian officials have denied.

In an open letter to Mr Putin to mark the anniversary, the Beslan Mothers Committee urged him to use his last year year in office to visit Beslan and tell the truth about the massacre.

“The most important truth is that our children were sacrificed for someone's bureaucratic interests. We know this truth. The whole Russian people should know this too,” the letter said.

“Beslan is not just a great tragedy for Russia, it is also a shameful episode for the Russian authorities.”

“It is your moral duty, as the president of Russia, to come to Beslan in your last year in office, to go to the children's cemetery, to see at first hand the scale of the tragedy and to tell the truth to all of Russia,” the letter said.

Beslan is in the turbulent North Caucasus region in southern Russia, near to Chechnya where Russian forces have fought two wars against separatists rebels and from where the violence often spills over into neighbouring regions.

Mr Putin built his power, first as Prime Minister, then as President, on a campaign to overthrow a Chechen rebel government and restore Kremlin control.

Anonymous said...

Top cop says goodbye
NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney ends his 42-year career in the force today.

NSW Fire Brigades will provide Mr Moroney with a special guard of honour as he passes the City of Sydney fire station on Castlereagh Street on his way to the Sydney Police Centre.

At the centre, in Surry Hills, Mr Moroney will send out a final message to his officers over the police radio network.

He will then formally march out from the centre with deputy commissioners Andrew Scipione, who will take over the top job from Mr Moroney, and Terry Collins.

By 12.40pm (AEST), it is expected Mr Moroney will be a retired, former police commissioner.

Earlier this week, Mr Moroney presided for his last time over the graduation ceremony at Goulburn police academy for the newest generation of police officers.

Mr Moroney rose through the ranks after starting as a constable in the south-western Sydney suburb of Liverpool in 1965.

In May 2002, he was sworn in as the 19th commissioner of the NSW Police Force.

Mr Moroney and his wife Bev have three sons, all of whom are in the NSW Police Force. Several other members of the family are also serving or former members of the force.

Mr Moroney was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) last year.