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Test for Magpies Lynch and Brown

January 14th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on Test for Magpies Lynch and Brown)

The injury cloud hovers uncomfortably over Collingwood big men Nathan Brown and Quinten Lynch on the eve of their sudden-death AFL final.


Both Brown, who has a knee problem, and Lynch (ankle) are still no certainties to play in the Magpies’ clash with Port Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday night despite being named in Collingwood’s 22, admits assistant coach Matthew Lappin.

The duo must train well on Friday and pull up the same way, or risk missing out.

“(Lynch) has got to get through the session today,” Lappin said.

“He had a run yesterday and he’s improved a lot as the week’s gone on.

“(Brown) is the same. He’s got the session to go, and we’re very hopeful they’ll get through.

“If Quinten Lynch or Nathan Brown doesn’t come up in the session we’re going to have to replace players, so it’s a squad of 25 at the moment and we’ll see how we go.”

Lynch failed to train on Wednesday.

But the Magpies will certainly have midfielder Luke Ball and wingman Harry O’Brien back from injury and illness.

Lappin said Collingwood have spent the week virtually freshening up players following Sunday’s narrow loss to North Melbourne in a dead rubber match.

But he has no concerns about his side handling the short break.

“It was a funny game, but our players have freshened up really well this week,” Lappin said.

“Some of our best games this year have come off six-day turnarounds, so we’re certainly not worried about that.”

Port Adelaide beat Collingwood by 35 points in round 14.

But Collingwood have since shown with wins over Essendon, premiers Sydney and West Coast they are finding fluidity at the right time of the season.

Port regain star midfielder Hamish Hartlett from suspension and Robbie Gray and defender Alipate Carlile.

England defensive over world cup hopes

January 14th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on England defensive over world cup hopes)

England captain Steven Gerrard insists boss Roy Hodgson is right not to be drawn into the debate about his country’s chances of winning the World Cup.


New English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke’s claim this week that nobody expects England to win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil triggered a storm of complaints on the eve of two crucial qualifiers for Hodgson’s team against Moldova and Ukraine.

Dyke believes England’s hopes of winning in Brazil are a ‘doomed mission’ even if they do qualify from Group H.

But Hodgson made it clear he didn’t want to be drawn into a lengthy debate about Dyke’s views when he was quizzed at a press conference on Thursday.

“We don’t see it that way,” Hodgson insisted. “None of us, with the team, ever saw it in that way. We don’t believe our chairman sees anything as a doomed mission.

“He also said in his speech how much he supports the team and hopes we get to Brazil and do well.

“I don’t think he’s giving up on the team. That would be harsh on him and even harsher on the team.”

And Liverpool midfielder Gerrard was also diplomatic when he said: “I think realistically everyone in the room knows we’re not going to be one of the bookies’ favourites to win the World Cup.

“But it doesn’t mean we can’t get there and have a successful tournament to make the country proud. But, look, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. Our priority is to get there first.”

Gerrard had chosen this week to reveal he is thinking of a career in coaching once he retires and he jokingly hinted he might do a U-turn after witnessing the Dyke controversy.

“I may change my mind after this,” Gerrard added.

Gerrard, who at the age of 33 has won 103 England caps, had always said in the past he was unlikely to end up in a manager’s dug-out, but now it seems he is set to do so when he finally retires.

“I want to stay in the game,” he said. “It would be a dream to get that opportunity. If I’m good enough, if Liverpool came, I’d love to do that,” he said.

“I’ve been studying all the managers since I was a young age, the sessions they do and the tactics, making notes on things, because I love the game.

“When my playing days are over I’d love to stay involved. Whether that’s a coach or manager we’ll see, but I’ll definitely start my coaching badges.”

For now his focus is on continuing his England career on the pitch, having defied his critics by playing 52 games for Liverpool last season and keeping injury at bay.

“I want to play on for as long as I can, I want to contribute and still have a say on the pitch,” he said.

“I’ve felt great for the last few years. That’s down to the Liverpool and England medical staffs and to my recovery programmes for games.”

Hodgson was set to use Gerrard alongside Chelsea’s Frank Lampard in the two qualifiers and the Liverpool star expected the plan to succeed despite accusations that the duo cannot play well together.

“I think then we were in a 4-4-2 formation and this time you’ll find it’s different,” Gerrard said.

“Me and Frank like playing with each other and we’re confident we can do the job.”

Sweden grants blanket asylum to Syrian refugees

January 14th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on Sweden grants blanket asylum to Syrian refugees)

Sweden has become the first European Union country to announce it will give asylum to all Syrian refugees who apply.



“All Syrian asylum seekers who apply for asylum in Sweden will get it,” Annie Hoernblad, the spokeswoman for Sweden’s migration agency, told AFP.


“The agency made this decision now because it believes the violence in Syria will not end in the near future.”


The decision, which will give refugees permanent resident status, is valid until further notice, added Hoernblad.


Until now, Sweden could only house refugees temporarily for three years, after each individual case was evaluated by the state.


The agency expects that the “vast majority of Syrian nationals who today have provisional status will apply for permanent status,” said Hoernblad.


Those granted permanent status will also be allowed to bring their families to Sweden.


The move came as the United Nations said the number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria had passed two million, which the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, called “the great tragedy of this century”.


Since 2012, Sweden has taken in some 14,700 asylum seekers from Syria.


Swedish Migration Minister Tobias Billstroem called on other countries to recognise their duty to help the Syrian people.

Q and A: Blanket asylum policies

Dr Jonathan Bogais, The University of Sydney

How common are offers of blanket asylum?

Offers of blanket asylum are very uncommon. There is a global trend against supporting asylum seekers, mostly because of the processing factors attached. Most countries prefer opening their doors to refugees, which for national political reasons is easier.

Sweden has set a precedent in the European Union, do you think other countries in the EU will follow suit during the Syria crisis?

The number of asylum seekers from Syria into the EU has increased from 7860 in 2011 to 24,110 in 2012 and the number is growing rapidly due to the intensification of the conflict.

Germany, which has the highest intake of refugees in the EU, is into election mode and asylum seekers are an issue most politicians prefer to avoid. Therefore it is unlikely that similar offers will be made.

France is experiencing growing nationalism and xenophobia enflamed by ultra-right movements such as the Front National. The French government is only too aware of the sensitivity around issues of bringing more refugees, let alone asylum seekers.

Sweden, however, has set a precedent. Its impact could be significant among many Europeans and a prelude for change, and I believe many people will see it that way.

Swedish Migration Minister Tobias Billstroem has called on other countries to recognise their duty to help the Syrian people. Does such a duty exist?

No it doesn’t. International law clearly does not provide for a duty to grant asylum. Article 14 of The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”. However, this right to seek asylum has not been included in any legally binding instrument. Most notably, there is no mention of this right in the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Since 2012, Sweden has taken in more than 14,000 asylum seekers from Syria, how many more would you estimate to seek asylum in Sweden following this announcement?

We are likely to witness a rush. How many is hard to estimate. Eventually, there will be a point where the number will be unsustainable. Also, how much will the Swedish people be prepared to accept? This is an unprecedented situation that will no doubt have deep social and economic consequences for Sweden.

How likely is it that Australia would extend a similar blanket offer of asylum to any group under either a Rudd or Abbott government?

Most unlikely. Only days ago, Mr. Abbott also said it was unlikely Australia would take in Syrian asylum seekers. According to Mr Abbott, people fleeing the Syrian conflict could go to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey or Iraq first. In any case, according to Mr Abbott, “Any person fleeing Syria and landing up in Australia would be in much the same position as the Hazaras and others who are coming by boat.” The Coalition’s policy is that asylum seekers arriving by boat will be processed offshore – and so is ALP’s policy.

Would a shift in Australian policy be more likely if a neighboring country faced a similar conflict to Syria?

I doubt very much that this could happen. Given priorities on increasing border protections expressed by both sides of politics, we could instead see a tightening of Australia’s borders to prevent a flow of asylum-seekers entering Australia.

Dr Jonathan Bogais is an Adjunct Associate Professor at The University of Sydney’s School of Social and Political Sciences.


NASA spacecraft to study Moon

January 14th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on NASA spacecraft to study Moon)

NASA hopes to unravel more of the Moon’s mysteries by launching an unmanned mission to study its atmosphere, the US space agency’s third such probe in five years.


The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is to launch Friday at 11:27pm (1327 Saturday AEST) aboard a Minotaur V rocket – a converted peacekeeping missile – from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Since US astronauts last walked on the moon four decades ago, rocket scientists have learned that there is more to the Moon than just a dusty, desolate terrain.

Recent NASA robotic missions such as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have returned troves of images detailing the Moon’s cratered surface, while NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) revealed how being pummelled by asteroids resulted in the Moon’s uneven patches of gravity.

A previous NASA satellite, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite(LCROSS) discovered water ice when it impacted in 2009, the space agency said.

“When we left the Moon we thought of it as an atmosphere-less ancient surface,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate.

“We have discovered that the Moon scientifically is very much alive, it is still evolving and in fact has a kind of atmosphere.”

The Moon’s atmosphere is so thin that its molecules do not collide, in what is known as an exosphere.

Exploring that exosphere will be a $US280 million ($A308.35 million) solar and lithium battery-powered spacecraft about the size of a small car – nearly 2.4 metres tall and 1.85 metres wide.

After launch, LADEE aims to hurtle itself beyond Earth’s orbit so it can circle the Moon, first cruising at a height of about 250km for just over a month, and then moving lower to 20 to 60km from the surface for the science portion of its mission.

It is carrying an Earth-to-Moon laser beam technology demonstration and three main tools, including a neutral mass spectrometer to measure chemical variations in the lunar atmosphere and other tools to analyse exosphere gasses and lunar dust grains, NASA says.

“These measurements will help scientists address longstanding mysteries, including: was lunar dust, electrically charged by solar ultraviolet light, responsible for the pre-sunrise horizon glow that the Apollo astronauts saw?” NASA said.

Other instruments will seek out water molecules in the lunar atmosphere.

About 100 days into the science portion of the mission, the LADEE spacecraft will do a death plunge into the Moon’s surface.

The spacecraft was made in a modular design that aims to “ease the manufacturing and assembly process” and “drastically reduce the cost of spacecraft development,” NASA said.

Potential future uses of this module could include unmanned probes to an asteroid or to Mars, as well as future Moon probes, though none are planned for now.

US astronauts first walked on the Moon in 1969, and the last explorers of the Apollo era visited in 1972.

The US space agency has no plans to follow LADEE with a human mission to the Moon.

LADEE was conceived when NASA was planning to return humans to the Moon as part of the Constellation program, which President Barack Obama cancelled early in his presidency for being over budget and redundant in its goals.

NASA’s next big human exploration project aims to send humans to Mars by the 2030s.

Labor, coalition lay out final plans

January 14th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on Labor, coalition lay out final plans)

As the final week of the 2013 election campaign wraps up, Christine Milne and Kevin Rudd have summed up what many voters are feeling.


“This federal election has been dominated by the small, mean, narrow, tedious and entirely predictable race to the bottom from the old parties,” the Greens leader told the National Press Club.

A downbeat prime minister began his press club speech paraphrasing Macbeth, to lament much of the campaign had been “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

It’s hard to disagree, which is probably one of the reasons why Tony Abbott is on track to win Saturday’s election by a comfortable majority.

After six years – starting with the global financial crisis, Rudd’s overthrow by Julia Gillard, a Labor minority government and concluding with Rudd’s revenge on Gillard – Abbott has emerged as a veritable pillar of political stability.

If the polls are correct, the coalition will govern with between 80 and 90 seats in the 150-seat lower house, but fall a few seats short of a majority in the Senate.

Voters were given a snapshot of the parties’ policies and main attack points in the final speeches by the leaders at the National Press Club in Canberra this week.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott kicked off on Monday, mostly sticking to the main points of a stump speech he’s delivered dozens of times over the past three years.

The coalition – he said, looking straight down the barrel of the press club camera – would scrap the mining and carbon taxes, cut red tape, bring the budget back to surplus and stop the boats.

It took a minute into the speech for Abbott to switch from a positive message about a “strong and united coalition team” to the “chaos and confusion” of Labor.

A few minutes later he was accusing Labor of “bare-faced lies” about the coalition’s policies.

The opposition leader hit his stride talking about his top priority – abolishing the carbon tax – putting it at the heart of the coalition’s plan to inject new life into a flagging economy and lower living costs for families.

The alternative prime minister also projected a sense of gentle reassurance – something lacking through much of the five-week election campaign.

“I can’t promise that everyone will like every decision that an incoming government takes,” he said.

“But I can promise a government that is competent and trustworthy and takes every opportunity to help our country and our people realise its full potential.”

The Greens’ balance-of-power position will be a key factor in the success or failure of any Abbott coalition government at least until July 1, 2014 – when half the Senate changes over.

Milne’s speech on Wednesday roamed from lamenting the state of modern-day politics to policies the Greens would be happy to negotiate with an Abbott government and those it would fight to the death.

Most revealing was Milne’s admission she had never met with the Liberal leader or had a conversation with him.

Abbott can expect the Greens leader to seek talks on paid parental leave, a ban on semi-automatic handguns, bringing dental care into Medicare and strengthening foreign investment rules.

But it promises to be a battle royal over the abolition of carbon price, cuts to superannuation, asylum seekers, devolving green tape to the states and changing the Fair Work Act.

Rudd’s speech covered Labor’s plans, but mainly focused on the dangers of Abbott’s “conservative mission” and the economic risks posed by a potential coalition government.

He homed in on the opposition leader’s comment – made in relation to Australia’s role in the Syrian conflict – that the nation shouldn’t be getting ideas “above our station”.

“Australians have always had ideas above their station. It is that, in fact, that defines us,” Rudd said, listing post-war reconstruction, free university education, Medicare, superannuation and disability care as examples.

He warned a coalition government would be “a fundamental change to the face of Australia”.

But, as Milne pointed out, this is a hard argument to sustain.

With such a narrow gap between Labor and coalition policies on a range of issues – from asylum seekers to keeping a lid on welfare spending – and a long record of the major parties voting together in parliament, it is no wonder many voters see it as a race between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

How Australians have judged this race should be clear on Saturday night.

Zimbabwe could seize companies

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on Zimbabwe could seize companies)

President Robert Mugabe’s government says the bill is part of its drive to empower the country’s poor majority and eliminate traces of the colonial past.


Legislators of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) kicked off debate on the bill, saying it was designed to enrich a few powerful individuals and win votes for the ruling ZANU-PF party in parliamentary and presidential elections due next March.

At the UN General Assembly in New York, US President George W. Bush denounced Mr Mugabe’s government as “tyrannical” and demanded freedom for the Zimbabwean people.

But African nations, closing ranks behind Mr Mugabe, insist on his presence at an EU-Africa summit in Portugal in December, Zimbabwe’s information minister said in response to the British prime minister’s refusal to attend if Mr Mugabe was there.

Repression blamed for exodus

Critics accuse the Zimbabwean government of causing the economic crisis by seizing white-owned farms and handing them to inexperienced black farmers, leading to soaring inflation and unemployment and crippling shortages that have forced hundreds of thousands to seek work and food abroad.

Mr Mugabe has denied charges of economic mismanagement and blames the crisis on Western sabotage.

The European Union has imposed targeted sanctions on members of his leadership group it accuses of rights abuses and election fraud.

A survey released in Johannesburg today showed political repression was an even bigger cause of Zimbabwean flight to South Africa than the economy.

Between two and three million Zimbabweans are estimated to have fled to South Africa.

“The government has cracked down on peaceful calls for reform and forced millions to flee their homeland…The United Nations must insist on change in Harare and…on the freedom of the people of Zimbabwe,” Mr Bush told the UN General Assembly.

Foreign conspiracy theory

The MDC’s Edwin Mushoriwa, leading parliament’s debate on the bill, told lawmakers: “What we are seeing is an attempt obviously to use this as a campaign tool to woo voters for the elections and to give money to a few people.”

Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Paul Mangwana and ZANU-PF legislators defended the bill and accused its opponents of trying to perpetuate economic imbalances brought about by colonialism.

“If we do not dismantle the structure of colonialism that we inherited, then we have not given back all the country’s resources to its rightful owners, our people,” he said.

Mr Mugabe, 83 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has accused some foreign-owned firms of working with his Western opponents to topple his government by raising prices without reason.

He has threatened to seize foreign businesses.

Mr Mangwana tried to allay business fears by saying the government would work with industries to set timetables for foreign-owned firms to transfer majority ownership to locals.

“We are not going to indigenise in a day,” he said.

Fears for the economy

Mining and business officials said the law could accelerate the decline of an economy that has shrunk by at least 30 per cent since 1999.

“Zimbabwe is now seen as a high-risk destination because of uncertainty over security of tenure and lack of confidence in the rule of law,” Chamber of Mines leader Jack Murewa said.

Information Minister Sikhanhyiso Ndlovu told journalists Mr Mugabe had solid African backing to attend the December summit.

“If any pressure is put on Portugal not to invite President Mugabe, SADC will also not attend and the AU will not attend,” he said, referring to the Southern African Development Community and the African Union.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said last week he would not attend the summit if Mr Mugabe did because Mr Mugabe’s presence would divert attention from important agenda items.

The EU-Africa summit did not take place in 2003 after Britain and other EU states refused to attend if Mr Mugabe did.

Somalians on the brink of starvation flee

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on Somalians on the brink of starvation flee)

More than 170,000 people have fled fighting in Somalia's capital in the past two weeks, as up to a million people face starvation.


The humanitarian crisis already facing the country is worsening, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency.

With near-daily clashes between Ethiopia-Somali forces and Islamist rebels, the UNHCR said it was doling out its last stocks from Mogadishu to the displaced, but warned of tough conditions as host areas struggle with the influx.

Some 90,000 people have fled to Afgooye, 30 kilometres west of Mogadishu, which has already taken in some 150,000 displaced people since the beginning of the year.

In the Afgooye area, “people can no longer find space for shelter around the town itself,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva.

“Many families are simply living under trees.

Although several NGOs are trucking water to the sites, it's not enough to meet demand,” he added.

Traders stayed away from the volatile Bakara market, where forces have been searching for weapons.

Government troops patrolled strategic positions in the city, but insurgents have stayed out of sight.

President calls on residents

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed urged Mogadishu residents to join the fight against rebels or risk getting caught in the ensuing crossfire.

“People in neighbourhoods must also fight the Shabab and chase them away.

“Otherwise they are the ones who suffer in crackdowns,” he said, referring to the radical armed wing of the main Somali Islamist movement.

Dozens of people, mainly civilians, have been killed and at least 170,000 displaced in some of the worst fighting since April, when Ethiopian troops swept aside the Islamists who had briefly governed much of the country, including Mogadishu.

Witnesses said Ethiopian forces indiscriminately shot civilians in a bid to clamp down on insurgents.

“When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers,” said Mr Yusuf, but the UN special envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, said such impunity was “unacceptable”.

Mr Ould-Abdallah raised the prospect of retribution for alleged war crimes that have long been ignored.

“People perpetuating crimes and violence are not being challenged before the International Criminal Court,” he said.

“I think the time has come to see what international justice can do to help Somalis,” he said in Nairobi, where he became the first top UN envoy to make such a call for trials before the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.

The recent clashes have worsened the humanitarian crisis that has dogged the nation for 16 years, with areas just outside the city struggling to cope with the latest influx of displaced people.

One million faced with starvation

The Shabelle region – Somalia's breadbasket – has suffered its worst crop in 13 years, putting the lives of nearly a million on the edge of starvation.

Aid workers have also said that the few who remained in the worst-affected areas of Mogadishu are beyond the reach of the relief net and face dire conditions.

Dampening peace prospects, Mr Yusuf said future peace talks, if any, would exclude Islamists, some of whose elements have been accused of terrorism.

“I will hold dialogue and consultations and reach peace deals with any group that will denounce violence.”

In Mogadishu, government forces yanked two more radio stations off the air, a day after shutting Radio Shabelle, one of the largest broadcasters in the capital.

The government said stations that “exaggerate the (security) situation” will be shut.

Mr Ould-Abdallah condemned the closure, saying: “This is the kind of thing that should be avoided.”

The International Federation of Journalists said the move was “appalling” and demanded the channels be reopened “immediately and unconditionally.”

Bloody clan bickering and power struggles that intensified after the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre have scuppered many bids to stabilise Somalia.

Trade dominates Day Two talks

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on Trade dominates Day Two talks)

Prime Minister John Howard says the leaders, who represent major trading nations such as the United States, Japan, China and Russia, will issue a statement later in the day on trade talks now under way in Geneva.


The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is expected to pledge to ensure that the moribund Doha round of global trade talks enter their final phase this year.

Free trade talks

Asia-Pacific foreign and trade ministers meeting in Sydney have already agreed to accelerate global free trade talks.

US President George W Bush has called at APEC for more flexibility in world trade talks, saying the Doha round of talks in Geneva was a "once-in-a-generation opportunity".

APEC's 21-member economies account for half of global trade and nearly 60 per cent of the world's gross domestic product.

‘Close to deal’

Trade negotiators may be edging closer to a deal on the most divisive issues in the Doha talks, WTO director-general Pascal Lamy says.

"There is a strong sense that it's make-or-break moment.

“It may take a few weeks, but my sense is that there is a lot of focus and energy," Mr Lamy told CNBC in a taped interview.

Urgent negotiations

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, who is attending APEC, says she also sees a sense of urgency and motivation among negotiators.

The Doha Round, named after the Qatari capital where negotiations were launched in November 2001, was first meant to wrap up by the end of 2004.

The talks have struggled to overcome many countries' resistance to open their farm and manufacturing sectors to more competition.

‘Aspirational’ climate goals

The APEC leaders agreed yesterday to a "long-term aspirational goal" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but no binding targets.

They also said all nations, developing and developed, should contribute according to their own capacities and circumstances to reducing greenhouse gases.

Green groups say the "Sydney Declaration" was a failure without binding targets to cut greenhouse emissions.

Tight security

The leaders met behind a tight security cordon at the Sydney Opera House, after police say they feared violent street protests against the Iraq war and global warming.

But yesterday's anti-APEC protest march was peaceful, with only a few arrests.

The final day of the conference will proceed without President Bush, who flew out of Australia late on Saturday.

Mr Bush returned home early to prepare for a major report on the progress of the Iraq war.

ETA vows more attacks on Spain

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on ETA vows more attacks on Spain)

In its first communique since the end of a 14-month ceasefire in June, ETA said the peace process launched by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero offered no political solutions and only sought the group’s surrender.


“ETA will continue hitting the structure of the Spanish state on all fronts until achieving democratic conditions that allow the defence of all political projects,” the group said in the statement published in Basque newspaper Gara.

ETA, which stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, said Spain’s Socialist government wanted to dismantle efforts to seek an independent Basque state.

“All of ETA’s efforts to reach an agreement and represent the rights of the Basque country have failed,” the group said.

ETA claims explosions

ETA used the statement to claim responsibility for July explosions on the Tour de France cycle course, an August car bombing of a Basque police station, the explosion of a motor home in August and an attack last week in the La Rioja region.

ETA has killed more than 800 people in four decades of armed struggle to create an independent Basque state in areas of northern Spain and southwestern France.

When ETA called off the ceasefire in June it also blamed the Socialist government for the breakdown in talks and vowed to attack Spanish police and other targets.

Spain’s ruling Socialist party today said ETA’s political proposals for a Basque state were unacceptable.

ETA has only minority support among Basques, polls show.

“They broke the ceasefire because the government rejected their political proposals and I want to tell the terrorist group ETA that we’ve said no and we’ll keep on telling them no,” said Jose Blanco, Socialist party secretary.

In the Basque city of San Sebastian police today broke up a rally in support of ETA prisoners and arrested the leader of an amnesty movement along with five others.

Spain’s central government had outlawed the demonstration and two people were injured as police and demonstrators clashed.

Billionaire Richard Pratt gravely ill

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Billionaire packaging tycoon Richard Pratt, one of Australia\’s richest men, is reported to be gravely ill, suffering from what is believed to be prostate cancer.


Federal Victorian Labor MP Bill Shorten, a family friend, said he had met with the Pratt family on Monday night.

He said Mr Pratt was in a serious condition.”I can explain, but I\’m going to leave that for the family out of respect,” Mr Shorten told the ABC.

Under further questioning about the nature of Mr Pratt\’s illness, Mr Shorten said “gravely ill” was the only way he would describe it.

The controversies surrounding Mr Pratt in recent years had been tough, Mr Shorten said, but he is a strong man.

Philanthropy hailed

“I can\’t claim to see into his mind and his morale at the moment and he is ill, and he has and is a big contributor to public life.

“I think it\’s fair to say that Richard Pratt is currently held in very high respect by many many people in Victoria and Australia, he employed thousands of people in good jobs.

“And his family do great social work, not only in Australia but overseas.”

Mr Pratt was an actor, businessman, involved heavily in the community and is worthy of the nation\’s respect, Mr Shorten said.

As one of Australia\’s richest men and biggest philanthropist, Mr Pratt is worth more than $5 billion.

Price-fixing allegations

He built up the Visy packaging company into an international empire, but came into strife over alleged price fixing.

The Federal Court is currently deciding whether the evidence Mr Pratt gave in a 2007 civil case can be used in a criminal trial against him.

He faces four charges of giving false or misleading evidence to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) at a hearing in 2005.

At the time, he denied a conversation he allegedly had about price fixing with Amcor chief executive Russell Jones at a hotel in Melbourne in 2001.

It is believed Mr Pratt has prostate cancer and is resting in his home in the wealthy Melbourne suburb of Kew.