Archive for 11/06/2019

No second-tier tears for Seebohm at worlds

Emily Seebohm’s Olympic tears were replaced by smiles at the world championships as this time she savoured taking 100m backstroke silver behind American Missy Franklin.

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In a repeat of the result in London last year, Seebohm finished second behind the rising 18-year-old in the latest duel between the world’s premier female backstrokers in Barcelona.

It was Australia’s fifth medal, and fourth silver, after three days of racing in Spain.

Seebohm was shattered at finishing second in London, feeling she’d lost the gold after breaking the Olympic record in the heats but failing to reproduce that form in the final.

But it was a vastly-different attitude from Seebohm after clocking 59.09 seconds to finish behind Franklin (58.42) and ahead of Japan’s Aya Yerawaka (59.23) in Tuesday’s final.

The 21-year-old took three months off after the Olympics and said knowing she wasn’t in peak condition coming into worlds allowed her to race free of pressure and enjoy the experience.

“I think what I achieved last year wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be,” Seebohm said.

“But seeing as I haven’t been in the shape that I was last year, I didn’t really expect too much (in Barcelona).

“That helped me and made me feel happy to be out there and I enjoyed every minute of it.

“Being up there on the podium and getting a silver medal is incredible and I wish that was a little bit more important last year and that I enjoyed it a little bit more.”

Seebohm said taking a break helped her rediscover herself but it hasn’t affected her desire to get back to chasing Franklin in the build-up to Rio 2016.

“We work really hard to get in the shape that we are pre-Olympics and we don’t really have a lot of big breaks,” Seebohm said.

“After Olympics we just kind of let loose and go a bit crazy.

“I’m not in the shape I was but this is just motivation to keep me going and to keep getting stronger and get in that position that I want.”

Seebohm collected the only medal for Australia on Tuesday, following a three-medal haul on Monday.

That performance included a gold to Christian Sprenger in the 100m breaststroke final and he returned to the pool to progress to the final of the 50m event.

His swim of 27.10 was the fourth-fastest in the semi-finals, while South African Cameron van der Burgh underlined his favouritism for Wednesday’s final with an impressive 26.81.

“I’m still a little bit tired from everything last night, all the emotion and excitement,” Sprenger said.

“But (in the final) I will give it all I can and leave nothing behind.”

Ashley Delaney (53.55) was sixth in the men’s 100m butterfly final while Cameron McEvoy (1:46.63) and Thomas Fraser-Holmes (1:47.11) were seventh and eighth respectively in the men’s 200m freestyle, won by France’s Olympic champion Yannick Agnel (1:44.20).

“Tonight was just not acceptable in my books and it’s not where I wanted to be,” national 200m champion Fraser-Holmes said.

Australian Kylie Palmer (1:56.53) qualified sixth fastest for Wednesday night’s 200m freestyle final but Olympic bronze medallist Bronte Barratt (1:57.18) missed out.

Grant Irvine (1:56.95) failed to reach the men’s 200m butterfly final.

The swim of the night belonged to American teenager Katie Ledecky, who demolished the world record in the non-Olympic women’s 1500m freestyle final.

The 16-year-old clocked 15 minutes and 36.53 seconds to shave more than six seconds off the previous record, set by American Katie Ziegler in 2007.

Gonski, NDIS unaffordable: Hockey

“The problem is that in the one breath the Prime Minister says she hasn’t got enough revenue coming in, and in the other breath, she says she wants to spend more money, much more money, in areas like disability care and education and so on,” he said.

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“But the problem is that this expenditure is not sustainable over the longer term if the government has falling revenue.”

Mr Hockey said the opposition was committed to the NDIS, but the Coalition would live within its means in government.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey told reporters in Sydney that superannuation and capital gains tax will be the areas hardest hit when the government tries to counter its $12 billion deficit, but refused to speculate on the Coalition’s strategies, such as the Coalition’s generous paid parental leave scheme policy.

“We are not in the business of ruling things in or out because we don’t know what we are going to inherit,” he said.

“Our signature policies are getting rid of the carbon tax … mining tax and having a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme, they are there and we will deliver on them,” he said.

Mr Hockey said the issue was the federal government was not telling the truth about the state of the country’s financial books.

“We are being extremely wise in not revealing our policies in detail now because what the government is doing is changing the numbers every day,” he said.

Elsewhere in South Australia Opposition Leader Tony Abbot said Labor is making “yet more excuses for yet more failure”.

Mr Abbott argued revenue had actually risen seven by per cent in 2012/13.

“Every day we have the government saying there is a revenue problem, and every day they are announcing multi-billion spending programs.Is it any wonder that this government has a problem?”

Ms Gillard told a conference on Monday that revenue in 2012/13 would be $12 billion less than forecast because of the continued strength of the Australian dollar.

“The persistent high dollar, as well as squeezing exporting jobs, also squeezes the profits of exporting firms. With lower profits for these companies comes lower company tax going to government,” she told the Per Capita forum in Canberra.

She said the government wouldn’t cut the budget to the bone in response, but warned that every “reasonable” option was now on the table, “even options previously taken off the table”.

As Finance Minister Penny Wong told ABC radio Australia was facing “a new economic reality”, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott accused Labor of just making excuses.

But Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the erosion of the budget bottom line should be seen in the context of declining business activity and a slowing economy.

“The major parties should avoid plans for tax increases or spending cuts that would worsen the outlook for this already slowing economy,” he said in a statement.

TD Securities head of Asia Pacific research Annette Beacher has upgraded her forecast for the 2012/13 budget deficit.

It’s now seen closer to $25 billion – or 1.7 per cent of GDP – compared to an earlier prediction for a $10-$15 billion shortfall.

“Clearly revenues rely too heavily on corporate taxation and not enough on personal taxation, a legacy of the prior Howard-Costello government,” she said in a note to clients.

“This structure needs to change.”

However, even a $25 billion deficit would be a marked improvement on the $43.7 billion deficit posted in 2011/12 and the $47.7 billion deficit in 2010/11.

But the IMF said while Australia’s fiscal position was now weaker than expected, it was not a concern because of the country’s low level of debt.

IMF director for Asia and the Pacific Anoop Singh said with debt levels at just 10 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), Australia was one of very few countries with triple-A sovereign debt ratings from the three major credit ratings agencies.

“The next budget will lay out the government’s plan to achieve a strong fiscal position … essentially the government has remained keen to return the budget to surplus, and this is a praiseworthy objective that we have supported,” he told a news conference in

Singapore.

As well, the IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook for Asia and the Pacific, released on Monday, said the Australian economy should return to trend growth in 2014, despite the damage being caused by a high Australian dollar.

Strauss-Khan sex probe to continue

Lawyers for the disgraced politician said they would appeal the court’s decision.

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“Mr Strauss-Kahn’s defence is certain that he will ultimately be cleared of the absurd charges of pimping that have been made against him,” they said in a statement.

The setback for Strauss-Kahn came a week after he agreed a financial settlement with a New York hotel maid who had accused him of sexual assault in a case that forced him to resign from his IMF job and wrecked his chances of becoming French president.

Details of the settlement were not disclosed, but legal experts said Strauss-Kahn would have been required to pay Nafissatou Diallo several million dollars over her allegation he had jumped on her naked and forced her to perform oral sex.

Strauss-Kahn admitted a sexual encounter took place in the Sofitel hotel in May 2011 but insisted it was consensual.

A criminal investigation into the incident collapsed after Diallo changed her version of events, prompting the prosecution to conclude there was little chance of a conviction.

French prosecutors however are convinced they have a case against Strauss-Kahn for “aggravated pimping in an organised gang”.

The case, known as the “Carlton affair” in France, centres around allegations that business leaders and police officials in Lille operated a vice ring supplying girls for sex parties, some of which are said to have taken place at the Carlton Hotel in the northern city.

Among Strauss-Kahn’s fellow accused is Jean-Christophe Lagarde, a police commissioner, and Rene Kojfer, the former public relations officer at the Carlton.

Lawyers for Lagarde and Kojfer have claimed their clients have been caught up in a political witch-hunt against Strauss-Kahn, arguing that there would have been no probe but for his involvement.

“This procedural combat changes nothing as we maintain our argument that legally these offences are not established and that in the end this case will collapse,” said Lagarde’s lawyer after Wednesday’s decision.

The Carlton case is one of a series of investigations that were launched in the aftermath of Strauss-Kahn’s arrest in New York.

French writer Tristane Banon accused him of trying to rape her in 2003. Investigators concluded that while there was evidence of sexual assault, the alleged attack had occurred too long ago to be prosecuted.

Strauss-Kahn was also investigated over an allegation that he had taken part in the gang rape of a Belgian prostitute. That was dropped when she recanted and said she had consented to sex.

Prior to his six-minute encounter with Diallo in New York, DSK, as he is known in France, had looked certain to secure the Socialist Party’s nomination as their candidate for the 2012 presidential election.

As it was, Strauss-Kahn’s fall from grace cleared the way for party insider Francois Hollande to claim the nomination. He went on to comfortably defeat incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

Strauss-Kahn meanwhile was left to pick up the pieces of a shattered life. His third wife, Anne Sinclair, stood by him in the immediate aftermath of his New York arrest but left him this year.

Sinclair, a wealthy heiress and former newsreader on French TV, was reported by Le Monde to have provided her former partner with some of the money he needed to pay off Diallo.

Pope Francis: ‘Who am I to judge’ gays?

Pope Francis has reached out to gays, declaring that it’s not his place to judge them – while also condemning the Vatican’s reported gay lobby as a “serious problem”.

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The remarks to journalists as he flew back to Rome from a high-profile trip to Brazil appeared to be more conciliatory towards homosexuals than his predecessor Benedict XVI.

Watch: Pope reaches out

0:00 Share “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” the Pope asked.

“The problem is not having this orientation, it is lobbying. That’s the most serious problem.”

The Pope admitted in June that there is a “gay lobby” in the Vatican’s secretive administration, the Roman Curia, according to a Latin American Catholic website.

It followed earlier Italian media reports claiming that a secret report by cardinals investigating Vatican leaks included allegations of corruption and blackmail attempts against gay clergymen, and on the other hand, favouritism based on gay relationships.

The Pope also fielded questions about Battista Ricca, appointed by the pontiff to a key position at the troubled Vatican bank. He is embroiled in allegations that he had gay relationships with male prostitutes.

The Pope said he had ordered a “brief investigation but we found nothing on him”.

“I have not seen anyone at the Vatican who is registered as gay on his identity card,” he said, adding, however: “We acknowledge that there are (gays).”

“The catechism of the Catholic Church says clearly that we must not marginalise these people, who should be integrated in the society.”

Gays and lesbians should be “treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity, without discrimination”, he said.

Gay rights and liberal Catholic groups in the US gave the Pope’s remarks a qualified welcome.

Prominent gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign, said that while his “words do not reflect a shift in Church policy, they represent a significant change in tone”.

largely symbolic, is a big step in the right way.”

US election: Obama and Romney prepare for face-off

The first US election debate will give Mitt Romney a chance to break a change in polling patterns and convince voters he has what it takes to become president.

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SBS reporter Rhiannon Elston asked Jonathan Bradley of the US Studies Centre who will likely benefit most from the first US election debate.

The first debate focuses on domestic policy. What are the key areas we’re likely to see Barack Obama and Mitt Romney go head-to-head on?

It sounds like there is going to be a lot of talk about the economy.

The moderator of the debate, Jim Lehrer, who is a journalist from PBS, recently announced what the topics will be, and three of the six slots allocated during the debate will be about the state of the economy. The remainder is going to be about health care, the role of government and governing.

Will Romney as challenger be on the attack?

Romney is going to say that Barack Obama has failed because [Obama] thinks the government needs to be too involved in the economy. Romney believes what needs to be done is [for the government] to take its hands off and let businesses creates jobs

Who will the candidates be looking to persuade?

What they’re going to hope is that they’re going to sway the five to six per cent of voters that haven’t made up their mind yet. They’ll be looking to make a break one way or the other. The problem is that that might not happen, because the people who tune in have already made up their minds. That’s a problem for Mitt Romney, because he is slightly behind in the polls. What he really needs is a circuit breaker.

How important are these debates over the course of the election? Can a stand-out performance re-set the playing field?

Pundits like to talk about the outsize influence debates can have an election. They often cite famous examples such as the 1960 Nixon/Kennedy contest, where TV viewers thought Kennedy was the victor, while radio listeners thought Nixon sounded better.

The truth is that the effect of the debates is usually more modest. You might see a polling shift of a few points around debate time, but not much more than that. [One] race where the debates might have made a difference is the 2000 one, where Al Gore seemed condescending and standoffish. In close contests like that one — and possibly this year’s — the debates can make a difference.

The reason the debates are more important for the challenger is that it’s one of the few moments in which he stands on equal footing with the president. Even while campaigning, the president has the trappings of the office to elevate his stature.

Having never been president, the challenger has to convince voters that he’s a suitable alternative. In the debates, both candidates are the same — two people on stage together, neither more important than the other, each trying to persuade the nation to vote him. It elevates the challenger enormously.

Traditionally the challenger has come out on top in first election debates. Who is your pick to win the night?

They’re both really strong debaters and they’re both going to be really practiced. If all goes to plan, they’ll fight each other to a draw. Mitt Romney is not good when he is caught off-guard. If Obama manages to catch him unaware that could really be a sticking point.

Got a question about the US election debate? You can watch a live stream of the event, and join the live chat with SBS reporter Rhiannon Elston and US political blogger Jonathan Bradley here on the SBS World News Australia website on Thursday, October 4 at 11am AEST. Click here for more details.