Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Great Voice is Silenced

Luciano Pavarotti
Originally uploaded by Sydney Weasel
Luciano Pavarotti, one of the greatest tenors of his generation, has died at his home in Modena aged 71 after a battle with complications from pancreatic cancer surgery last year
* Rudd praises Chinese leader, will Hu change his stance on Nuclear Energy, Pollution, Corruption, Executions, Poverty or support for terrorism around the world? Rudd didn't ask that, however.
* Dog a victim of sexual abuse
* Queensland paedophile bust, what about Heiner affair?
* Apple revamp iPods with touchscreens
* Experts say water shortage may 'never end,' I guess ALP policy has its effect, but maybe conservatives will build some more dams.
* Schoolgirl's revenge?
* Germany foils terrorist attack.


Anonymous said...

Germans arrest 'Islamic extremists' over large terror plot
By Juergen Oder in Karlsruhe, Germany
GERMANY said it had foiled a large-scale attack with the arrest of three Islamic extremists who were targeting airports, as well as bars and discotheques used by Americans.

"They were planning massive attacks," Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms said.

"As possible targets ... the suspects named discotheques and pubs and airports frequented by Americans with a view to detonating explosives loaded in cars and killing or injuring many people," Mr Harms said.

The men, two Germans and a Turk aged 22, 28 and 29, had amassed vast amounts of hydrogen peroxide, the same chemical used by suicide bombers in the 2005 attacks on London's transport system which killed 56 people, Mr Harms said.

The chemicals had been stockpiled in a town in the Black Forest.

Arrested on Monday, the men allegedly belonged to an organisation with ties to al-Qaeda called Islamic Jihad Union, which German authorities have suspected for several months of planning attacks.

One of the three suspects was arrested for spying on a US military base in December but was released soon afterwards, federal police chief Joerg Ziercke said.

All three of the men had attended a training camp in Pakistan in 2006.

There was no confirmation of media reports that the men had been specifically targeting Frankfurt airport and the giant US military base in Ramstein.

The mayor of Medebach-Oberschledorn, the town where the suspects were arrested, said one of them had been shot by police, although this was not confirmed by prosecutors.

"I was told that one of the suspects was shot but I do not know how badly he was injured," Mayor Heinrich Nolte said.

The arrests come after police in Denmark said yesterday they had foiled a terrorist attack after arresting eight men they said had links to al-Qaeda.

Germany, which has about 3000 soldiers serving in Afghanistan, has been on high alert for several months.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in May that Islamist groups represented the "biggest threat to the stability and security of Germany".

The US embassy in Germany said in April it was increasing security at US facilities in the country in response to "a heightened threat situation".

US counter-terrorism officials said subsequently that authorities had intelligence suggesting Islamic extremists were planning to attack US targets in Germany with bombs and small arms.

Rolf Tophoven, a leading expert on terrorism in Germany, told NTV television that the arrests showed "that the threat to Germany is not abstract and the country has been in the firing line of terrorists for some time".

He added that he believed the arrests yesterday were the result of co-operation between German and US authorities.

German federal prosecutors in June charged a suspected mastermind behind a failed plot to bomb two passenger trains using bombs packed in suitcases last year which failed to explode because of faulty detonators.

Anonymous said...

Drunk schoolgirl kicks man where it hurts
By Christine Flatley and Jessica Marszalek
A DRUNKEN schoolgirl kicked a New Zealand man in the testicles for pronouncing her name wrong, a court was told today.

Megan Jane Conroy from Sandstone Point north of Brisbane, sobbed in the dock in the Brisbane District Court today as she pleaded guilty to assault.

The court was told she arrived home early on May 13 last year to find the complainant and a group of her mother's friends celebrating a birthday.

Conroy, then aged 17, asked the 40-year-man if he was "a Kiwi", and told him to "get f***ed" when he said yes.

She was then offended when he pronounced her name "Maegan" instead of "Megan" and kneed him in the groin and demanded he say it correctly.

She pushed him against the wall and kicked him in the testicles before he apologised.

Conroy let him go after trying to kick him a third time.

The man was treated for severe bruising and tenderness to his testicles.

The court was told Conroy was drunk at the time and the behaviour was out of character.

She was released on a $200, six-month good behaviour bond and no conviction was recorded.

Anonymous said...

Water restrictions may never end - experts
By Greg Roberts
AUSTRALIA may never fully recover from the current decade-long drought due to climate change, experts have warned.

The nation was facing a "new reality" of harsh water restrictions and a new climate with run-offs and river inflows the first casualty, speakers at today's Bureau of Meteorology national post-winter update said.

It was also revealed that although above-average rain fell along Australia's east coast in June-July, August rainfall in the southeast had been "terrible".

Areas affected by drought included nearly all population centres with Adelaide and Brisbane most vulnerable, although Sydney had enjoyed a bumper winter of rain.

Two months of rain was not enough to stop a 10-year drought and the outlook was grim due to "human-induced" climate change, the Bureau's National Climate Centre head Dr Mike Coughlan said.

"It is difficult for us to base predictions on historical records because over a 30-year period the climate at the beginning is quite different to the climate at the end," he said.

The immediate problem for Australians affected by drought and water restrictions was to get needed strong rainfalls in spring, with October traditionally the wettest month of the year.

The chances of that happening were good in Western Australia (50 to 55 per cent), but less so in Victoria and South Australia (40 to 45 per cent), with a 50 per cent chance between Sydney and Brisbane.

Good spring rain would stop storage levels in Australian capital cities dropping further, with Melbourne (39 per cent), Brisbane (20 per cent) and Canberra (43 per cent) all at lower levels than 12 months ago.

Dr Coughlan said a hoped-for La Nina weather pattern, bringing cool, wet weather, had so far been mostly wasted, occurring too far to the east over the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean.

High temperatures in August had added to the problem, Water Services Association of Australia executive director Ross Young said.

"Someone turned off the tap in Melbourne and Canberra, especially," he said.

"Population growth in all capital cities exacerbates the problem, and we will grow by another 65 per cent by 2050."

The Murray river's inflow and storage levels are at record-low levels with daily inflows not having exceeded the long-term 116-year average once in 2007.

This affects South Australia particularly, which is currently receiving a quarter of average inflows and relies on the river for 40 per cent of the state's water.

"The outlook is very grim and it will take years to recover," Murray Darling Basin Commission chief executive Dr Wendy Craik said.

Of Australia's agricultural land, 50 to 60 per cent was drought and exceptional circumstances declared, with farmers in those areas having received $1.85 billion in assistance so far.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said his Government would discuss possible further assistance for farmers at a community cabinet meeting in the Buloke shire, in Victoria's northwest, this month.

Mr Brumby said it was too early to know whether Melbourne would need to move to stage four water restrictions.

Speakers at the briefing said food prices and water bills would rise due to the drought.

Anonymous said...

Rudd addresses Chinese President in fluent Mandarin
By Doug Conway
LABOR'S Mandarin-speaking leader Kevin Rudd upstaged John Howard today in a show of linguistic one-upmanship at a state lunch for China's President Hu Jintao.

The Prime Minister's own speech went down well.

But when Mr Rudd started addressing the leader of one quarter of the world's population, fluently in his own tongue, the effect was stunning.

There was an almost audible intake of breath among the scores of Chinese political and business heavyweights in the audience.

Many sat bolt upright in their chairs, beaming at Mr Rudd's virtuosity.

The effect could not have been greater had the family's precocious nine-year-old played a Chopin prelude perfectly for the visiting relatives after Christmas lunch.

But it worked so well because Mr Rudd was not acting like a show-off.

He spoke at length in English first, displaying a commanding grasp of China's history and development into an economic giant, before seeking his audience's indulgence to welcome President Hu personally in Chinese.

And when he did, he must have made Mr Howard squirm in his seat.

He spoke not for a few lines but for a few minutes.

It was, quite simply, a made-to-measure moment for the former diplomat.

Not only is he consistently trouncing Mr Howard in the polls, but here he was looking like a genuine statesman at an APEC forum at which Mr Howard, as host, is no doubt expecting will enhance his own international reputation.

In the audience were former Labor prime ministers Gough Whitlam, who recognised China in the 1970s when it was not politically popular to do so, and Bob Hawke, who got the APEC ball rolling in 1989.

Also present were China's foreign and commerce ministers, Hong Kong's chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, business heavyweights like BHP's Chip Goodyear and Woodside Petroluem's Don Voelte, defence force chief Angus Houston and, with 11 months left until the Beijing Olympics, Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper.

Mr Rudd could not have scripted a bigger occasion on which to shine.

He also managed to trump Mr Howard on the issue of China's "panda diplomacy".

"It was once ping pong; now pandas are making a contribution to our relationship," Mr Howard said to warm applause after President Hu announced two pandas would be sent to Adelaide Zoo.

"That has nothing to do with the fact that my foreign minister comes from South Australia," he said.

Mr Howard might have been better omitting any mention of Alexander Downer, who had earlier made a humorous quip about panda mating habits which might not translate particularly well in Beijing.

After a news conference where an expert mentioned that pandas mated only three or four times a year, Mr Downer replied: "I'm glad I wasn't born a panda. Suck on that."

Mr Rudd said in his speech: "Should my party succeed at the next election, we would also welcome pandas coming to my home city of Brisbane." Touche.

Anonymous said...

Luciano Pavarotti dead at 71
LUCIANO Pavarotti, one of the greatest tenors of his generation, has died at his home in Modena, his manager says.

"Luciano Pavarotti died one hour ago," manager Terri Robson said in a telephone text message to media.

In an email statement to the Associated Press Robson said Pavarotti died at his home in Modena, Italy, at 5am local time (1pm AEST).

"The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterised his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness," the statement said.

Earlier, family and friends had gathered at the home of the Italian opera star as he lay unconscious and battling kidney failure.

The 71-year-old tenor, who helped bring opera to the masses and performed to vast stadium audiences around the world underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in July 2006.

Pavarotti shot to fame with a stand-in appearance at London's Covent Garden in 1963 and soon had critics gushing about his voluminous voice.

Perhaps his biggest gift to the music world was when he teamed up with Spanish stars Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras at the 1990 soccer World Cup and introduced operatic classics to an estimated 800 million television viewers round the globe.

Sales of opera albums shot up after the gala concert in Rome's Baths of Caracalla and since then Puccini's aria Nessun Dorma from his opera Turandot has been heavily associated with Pavarotti and soccer.

Like most Italian boys, Pavarotti used to dream of being a soccer star.

After the surgery in July last year in New York, he retreated to his Modena villa and had to cancel his first planned public reappearance a few months later.

Taken to hospital with a fever last month, Pavarotti was released on August 25 after undergoing more than two weeks of tests and treatment.

Earlier in his life Pavarotti's parents wanted him to have a steady job and for a while he worked as an insurance salesman and teacher.

But he started singing on the operatic circuit and his big break came thanks to another Italian opera great, Giuseppe di Stefano, who dropped out of a London performance of La Boheme in 1963.

Covent Garden had lined up "this large young man" as a possible stand-in and a star was born.

He went on to perform across Europe before crossing the Atlantic in February 1965 for a production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor in Miami, Florida with Australia's Joan Sutherland as Lucia.

It was with Sutherland in February 1972 that Pavarotti truly came of age, taking Covent Garden and the New York Metropolitan Opera by storm with a sparkling production of another Donizetti favourite, La Fille du Regiment.

He famously hit nine high C notes in a row in Daughter of the Regiment at New York's Metropolitan Opera, which he referred to as "my home".

Thirty years later, Pavarotti was still one of the highest paid classical singers even though his public performances were fewer and further between.

Medical problems beset "Big Luciano" in the final years of his career, forcing him to cancel several dates of his marathon worldwide farewell tour.

With Reuters and AFP

Anonymous said...

Dog may have been 'sexually abused'
By Evan Schwarten
RSPCA is investigating the cruel treatment and possible sexual abuse of a dog found abandoned beside a Queensland highway.

A passing motorist found the three-year-old, black-and-tan female rottweiler-cross on the D'Aguilar Highway, just outside Woodford on the Sunshine Coast, late on Tuesday.

He took it to a nearby vet clinic after noticing it was having difficulty walking and appeared to be suffering from malnutrition.

The vet said the dog had multiple fractures to its pelvis and a dislocated right hip but said the injuries were not consistent with being hit by a car.

The dog was also suffering tearing, bruising and bleeding from its vagina and anus, believed to have been caused by penetration.

It is believed those injuries may have occurred at the same time as the dislocation.

RSPCA inspector Julia Steley said the dog, which has been named Nessie, was still very friendly despite her injuries.

"She seems to shy away from males but any female that comes near her she seems to be quite receptive to," Ms Steley said.

Nessie is being cared for at the RSPCA's Fairfield shelter, where she is being given pain relief.

However, her long-term future is less certain and she may need to be euthanased if vets cannot treat her complicated injuries.

Ms Steley said she was investigating the dog's treatment as a case of animal cruelty, but police may become involved if it can be proven that Nessie was sexually abused.

Anonymous said...

Pair held over 800,000 child porn images
POLICE have arrested two people in Queensland after discovering about 800,000 images of child porn, state parliament was told today.

Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence said the images were allegedly found during raids today.

Ms Spence told parliament that officers from anti-child exploitation operation, Taskforce Argos, had executed 28 search warrants since May.

Since that time, 16 people had been charged with offences including possessing, distributing and producing child exploitation images.

She said police would have further information on the latest arrests later today.

Anonymous said...

Apple unveils revamped iPod
APPLE has unveiled a revamped iPod line starring a new model that mirrors the design of its innovative touch-screen mobile telephones.

"We think it's one of the seven wonders of the world,'' Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs quipped as he pulled a new iPod Touch from a pocket of his jeans during a press conference in San Francisco.

"If you've used an iPhone you will feel very much at home.''

Apple also cut the price of the popular eight-gigabyte iPhones by $US200 ($243) to $US399.

"We want to put iPhones in a lot of stockings this holiday season,'' Mr Jobs said, drawing cheers from the sympathetic invitation-only audience.

IPod Touch models feature Apple's Safari web browser and a built-in wireless antenna, meaning users can connect directly to the internet at Wi-Fi "hot spots'' the same way they might with a laptop computer.

Apple built Google and Yahoo search capabilities into iPod Touch models, along with YouTube compatibility and an iTune Wi-Fi Music Store that permits shopping at the online store without going through a computer.

In Australia, the 8GB model will be sold for $419 and the 16 GB model for $549.

Apple said that the 8mm thin iPod Touches will be released around the nation by the end of the month.

The Australian release date and retail price for the iPhone had not been set.

The iPod Touch models had been localised to an array of languages and would be the first part of the new product line to ship worldwide, Mr Jobs said.

Apple's overhaul includes matchbook-size iPod Shuffles in new colours and iPod Nanos built with video and game capabilities.

Mr Jobs officially christened the original iPod model the "Classic'' and said it would be available in 80 and 160 gigabyte models.

"We are going to refresh or replace every single product in this line-up for this holiday season,'' he said.

Mr Jobs also announced that Apple had an alliance with Starbucks to let iPod Touch or iPhone users link wirelessly for free to iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at any of the ubiquitous chain's coffee shops.

When iPod Touch or iPhone users are near a Starbucks store, a special icon will appear on the iTunes music store page and enable people to buy whatever song is playing at the coffee shop for the standard US99 cent price.

The Wi-Fi iTunes store would be added to iPhones as a software update later this month, said Mr Jobs.

"I think it is a deep and complete line-up," Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg said after watching the unveiling.

"A lot of consumers said they don't want a new mobile phone but they want all the other stuff the iPhone has."

Apple's tinkering with its money-making iPod line was done shrewdly, with the company adding video, memory or other coveted features while not pushing up prices, according to analysts.

"Apple has models with a range of appeal - fashion, function, price," Mr Gartenberg said. "Apple has set the bar high for competitors."

"I want an iPod Touch," said British musician KT Tunstall, who performed at the press conference.
"Steve Jobs is actually making it more fun to pay for music than steal it, which is great."

Cutting the price was a surprising move that some analysts at the event said could give the California company "a lock" on the market.

"Apple is being bold and aggressive, which is in keeping with its style," Mr Gartenberg said.