Monthly Archives: February 2019

Sochi Olympics Day 10

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

Victorian David Morris was not among the favourites in the men’s aerial skiing, but he held his nerve and landed his jumps when others didn’t.

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Murray Silby has the details.

(Click on audio tab above to hear full item)

David Morris’s silver in the men’s aerials competition has secured Australia’s third medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

It follows his aerials teammate Lydia Lassila taking bronze in the women’s event on Friday and Torah Bright’s silver in the snowboard halfpipe last week.

It is the first medal at a winter Olympics for Australia in the men’s aerials.

Morris has told Channel 10 he did not expect to win a medal and the realisation that he has done it is overwhelming.

“I felt like crying. I felt like throwing up. And it’s just … you know, when I started the sport, I was told I wasn’t going to be good. Like, ‘I don’t think you’ll be good at this sport.’ And now I’ve got a silver medal at the Olympics, so it’s like, ‘There it is, everyone.’ I knew I was going to be good from the start, and there’s the proof, so no-one can take that away from me, ever. It’s in the history books. So, it’s amazing. It’ll sink in later. I’ll get uber-excited and then just crash, I’m sure, but it’s … oh, my gosh, it’s crazy.”

Morris says he understood there were better jumpers in the field who could do more difficult jumps, but those tricks carried more risk.

So he says he concentrated on completing his jumps well and making sure he made his landings.

“The field that was here today is an incredible field. You saw the quality of the jumps, and some of these guys just got quite unlucky. If people had done their best jumps today, there’s no way I would have come second. I know that I’m not the best jumper out here. I consistently land, though. And that is always up there with people in the top 10, and top eight, and, today, top four and second.”

Morris’s bronze medal-winning aerials team-mate Lydia Lassila, who also won gold in Vancouver four years ago, says she always had faith the 29-year-old could medal.

“I definitely believe in Dave all the way. Always have. He’s a huge talent, and he’s just kept plodding along and pushing himself the whole time throughout his whole career despite not, perhaps, getting as much support as us female athletes in the aerial-skiing teams. So now, he’s up there. He’s right up there, and had an amazing performance, and I just love him.”

Anton Kushnir, from Belarus, won the gold with a score of 134.50.

Morris was second on 110.41, and China’s Zongyan Jia took the bronze with 95.06.

The women’s biathlon provided Belarussians with more cause to celebrate, thanks to Darya Domracheva’s win in the 12.5-kilometre mass-start race.

The victory gave Domracheva an unprecedented hat-trick of Olympic gold medals at these Games, having also won the pursuit and individual race last week.

Gabriela Soukalova, of the Czech Republic, won the silver and Tiril Eckhoff, of Norway, the bronze.

Thick fog on Day 10 has led to some events scheduled for the mountains around Sochi being postponed.

That included the men’s snowboard cross competition, featuring Australia’s gold-medal favourite Alex “Chumpy” Pullin.

Organisers have decided to reschedule the event for this evening, Australian time — Tuesday morning, Sochi time — and the event’s format will also be shortened.

The fog reduced sight to a minimum on the cross course, which includes a number of large jumps.

Ryan Taylor, from the sport’s governing body in Australia, Ski and Snowboard Australia, says Sochi organisers decided conditions were just too dangerous to go ahead.

“Just the speed that these guys would be travelling at over an undulating course, it’s not worth running the risk of harming the athletes. There were enough injuries in the women’s event when the conditions were good, so it’s a dangerous course and you don’t want to run that risk.”

Australia’s ice-dancing pairing of Danielle O’Brien and Greg Merriman have wrapped up their competition at Sochi, finishing last of 20 competitors after the free-dance section.

Merriman and O’Brien had advanced to the free dance thanks to a season’s-best performance in the short dance on Sunday.

O’Brien has told Channel 10 the experience of competing against the world’s best on the biggest stage was a thrilling one.

“It felt hard in the legs, but so exciting in my head. My head was buzzing. As much as my legs hurt, I didn’t feel anything, because I was so excited to be out there. It felt great. The audience was great. And we skated well. We had a few little slips, but, other than that, (I’m) so excited to have been out there.”

Two-time world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White won their first Olympic ice-dancing gold with a world-record total of 195.52.

Reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada were 4.53 points behind in the silver-medal position.

Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov took bronze with a total of 183.48 points.

 

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Indigenous Affairs Minister plays down pay gap allegations

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has addressed allegations that Indigenous people working in the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet are getting paid less than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

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The dispute was raised when staff members were shifted from other federal government departments to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

During the move, the number of Indigenous staff in the department went from six to 260 but claims have emerged that some of them are getting paid much less than other people.

It is alleged at least six public servants working at the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, otherwise known as FACHSIA, gets paid $11,000 less than someone who works for the PM’s Department. 

At an executive level that gap is nearly $20,000. 

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said that he suspected the allegations – first published in The Sydney Morning Herald – to be untrue.

He said all the staff who were transferred were in the same position, and that each department has different enterprise bargaining agreements. 

“Now I understand all those agreements – for example, someone who came over from DEEWR – will be on a different agreement than someone who is from FACHSIA,” he said. “They’ve all come over to PMC.”

“Now the PMC agreement will be renegotiated later in the year.”

But a source close to NITV says former FACHSIA employees have already been told they won’t be getting a pay rise.

Alistair Waters is from the Public Sector Union, which is negotiating the next set of contracts. 

“We know that this is going to be a very tough round of bargaining,” he said.

“And that money is tight across the public service but we have a very simple request and that is that workers who are doing work of equal value should be getting the same paying conditions.”

All of the current agreements expire on the 30th of June this year. 

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Katy Perry named Elle’s Woman Of The Year

US pop star Katy Perry has been crowned Woman Of The Year at the 2014 Elle Style Awards in London.

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Roar singer Perry was presented with her gong by Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue at the glamorous award ceremony in London.

The 29-year-old I Kissed A Girl singer is known for her campaign work for gay rights and her support of same-sex marriage.

Perry, who divorced British comedian Russell Brand in 2011 after just 14 months of marriage, recently recorded duet Who You Love with boyfriend John Mayer.

Guests including model-of-the-moment Cara Delevingne, singer Ellie Goulding, former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko and designer Tom Ford were treated to a champagne reception, a 1950s supper club menu and table butler service at the magazine’s 17th annual celebration of style.

Lily Allen, who recently returned to the music scene after taking a break to become a mother, was named Female UK Recording Artist of the Year, while Tinie Tempah – who earlier this week high-fived the Duke of Cambridge as he performed at the Baftas – took home the title of Male UK Recording Artist of the Year.

Harry Potter star Emma Watson was awarded Actress of the Year and Happy singer Pharrell Williams was presented with the gong for International Recording Artist.

Fashion photographer David Bailey was presented with a Lifetime Achievement award by designer and director Tom Ford while Tom Hiddleston, fresh from his run starring in Coriolanus at the Donmar theatre, was named Man of the Year.

The Elle Style Awards 2014 in association with Warehouse were hosted by Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw at newly refurbished venue One Embankment.

Winner of the UK Elle Style Awards 2014:

– UK Recording Artist Female: Lily Allen

– British Designer of the Year: Christopher Kane

– Model of the Year: Suki Waterhouse

– UK Recording Artist Male: Tinie Tempah

– Accessory Designer of the Year: Kate Hillier

– Man of the Year: Tom Hiddleston

– Red Carpet Designer of the Year: Emilia Wickstead

– Contemporary Designer of the Year: Isabel Marant

– Fashion Innovator: Nicola Formichetti for Diesel

– International Recording Artist: Pharrell Williams

– Actress of the Year: Emma Watson

– Lifetime Achievement: David Bailey

– Woman of the Year: Katy Perry

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Dotcom search warrants legal: NZ court

Kim Dotcom’s battle against copyright allegations has been dealt a blow after New Zealand’s Court of Appeal ruled search warrants used in a raid of his mansion were valid.

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The decision overturns a 2012 High Court ruling that declared the warrants invalid because they weren’t specific enough and did not properly describe his offences.

The warrants preceded Dotcom’s arrest and were used to seize 135 electronic items including laptops, computers, hard drives, flash sticks and servers in January 2012.

The Attorney-General appealed the 2012 High Court decision, arguing that a reasonable person could have understood the warrants despite ambiguities.

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday agreed, ruling while the warrants were defective in some respects, the defects were not large enough to render them invalid.

It ruled no miscarriage of justice had occurred.

“We are satisfied that the defects in the search warrants have not caused any significant prejudice to the respondents beyond the prejudice caused inevitably by the execution of a search warrant,” the judgment said.

No more items were seized than if the warrants contained no defects, the Court of Appeal ruled.

The raid was performed at the request of the US Department of Justice, which is trying to extradite Dotcom and his three co-accused, Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram Van der Kolk, on criminal copyright violation and racketeering charges.

The charges relate to the quartet’s running of now-defunct file-sharing website, Megaupload.

While the Court of Appeal overturned the decision on the validity of the warrants, it did agree with the High Court that clones of Dotcom’s material should not have been taken to the United States.

Forensic clones of electronic items were made and handed to the FBI, which took them to the United States in March 2012.

The Court of Appeal ruled the removal of the clones was a breach of the direction of the Solicitor-General.

It found while Solicitor-General Michael Heron had the power to allow the cloned items to be taken out of the country by the FBI, he did not direct it.

Dotcom and his co-accused are fighting extradition to the United States to face charges.

They are also fighting in the Supreme Court for full disclosure of the US’s case against them.

Late in 2012, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key admitted pre-raid spying on Dotcom by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) was illegal because Dotcom was a New Zealand resident.

The government passed amendments to the laws governing the GCSB in August.

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Youth and revolution

I recently had the honor to participate in an online debate about democracy sponsored by the Economist.

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It was illuminating — not least because my opponent was Stanford’s Larry Diamond, one of the most respected scholars in the field of democratic transitions.

Our debate revolved around our assessments of the future of global democracy. Diamond made the case for the optimists, arguing that powerful forces in the world are naturally pushing societies toward the embrace of democratic institutions. I was the pessimist, so I see the picture as a bit less encouraging. I think that there are many powerful forces working to undermine or even reverse democracy in much of the world.

One of our most interesting differences of opinion involved the role of young people. At one point Diamond wrote that the monarchies in Jordan and Morocco, which have so far survived the challenge of the Arab Spring with surprising resilience, are doomed to fall. The reason: both countries have large cohorts of “tech-savvy youth.” The implication seemed to be that monarchic systems, inherently awkward, inflexible, and old-fashioned, simply won’t be able to resist large numbers of Internet-equipped, mobile-phone wielding activists once they get the bit in their teeth.

This assumption — that young people embody an inherently progressive revolutionary potential, making them the natural enemies of autocrats — is widespread. It’s been one of the major tropes of the Arab Spring:

Remember all those cool young Egyptians using Twitter to trip up Mubarak? And the idea is still alive and well, informing coverage of countries ranging from Brazil to Cambodia. Autocrats tremble, apparently, at the mere thought of young people joining hands to challenge them.

Certainly there’s some basis for the idea. Younger people aren’t set in their ways. They’re often idealistic. They usually don’t have the children, the mortgages, or the hoarded savings that tend to make their elders shy of radical change. Plus the young have plenty of energy. For all these reasons, the idea of reckless twenty-somethings joining forces to bring down tyrants has been a staple of western political thought at least since the French Revolution. (Disclosure: The author of this article is, well, middle-aged, shall we say.)

The problem is that this image of the youthful activist as a natural friend of freedom is a stereotype — and, like all stereotypes, it has its element of truth. Yes, young people often end up on the side of change. But that doesn’t automatically make them “progressive,” and it certainly doesn’t mean that they’re democrats.

The radical political movements of the twentieth century understood this very well. Both the Fascists and the Bolsheviks placed young people squarely at the center of their deeply illiberal programs. These totalitarians, knowing that the young were their natural allies in the fight against the old order, offered them quick access to power and careers — and the young were generally happy to accept. (And yes, both the Soviet Communists and the Nazis were “tech-savvy,” avidly embracing new technologies like radio and the movies, and capable of ferocious innovation in the realms of social policy and warfare.)

If we were to pick the most influential youth movement of the twentieth century, measured by sheer numbers and actual political effect on the lives of others, the title surely belongs to the Red Guards of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. When the Great Helmsman gave them official sanction to take bloody revenge on teachers, bureaucrats, and in some cases their own parents, millions of young Chinese responded with enthusiasm, unleashing a mass paroxysm of violence that remains without equal.

Young people often present their societies with great potential for destabilization — especially when the young are male (charged up by testosterone and frustrated ambitions).

The problem is compounded when there aren’t enough jobs or career opportunities to go around. In the 1970s, the shah’s Iran produced enormous numbers of overeducated young men without creating corresponding opportunities for advancement. They were easy prey for the ideology offered by the new revolutionary Islamists, who offered the young an attractive mix of militant faith and career-enhancing rejection of the old elites.

The idealism of youth, in short, doesn’t necessarily entail the embrace of liberal values. Young people can also satisfy their longing for purity in extremist identity politics. Most of the jihadis running around Syria and Iraq are young, though I doubt their vision of change is necessarily a kind of which Westerners would approve. (Pop quiz: Who’s the world’s youngest head of state? North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, age 31.)

The “revolutionary youth” meme is limited in other ways, too. Revolutionary practice suggests that young radicals are skilled at dismantling but not so great at building. Recent experience in Egypt and Tunisia offers good examples of this principle in action.

The young liberals who sparked the revolution in Tahrir Square in 2011 have wielded negligible influence on the political scene in the years since. In retrospect, their use of social media appears to have been relatively effective at marshaling demonstrators, but far less helpful at building positive political programs to challenge the organizational dominance of the old farts in the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Army.

In Tunisia, the young people who once called the shots on the streets have long since yielded the initiative to gray-haired politicians.

Time and time again, history shows us that youthful charisma, aggression, and idealism are great qualities for starting a political career, but they aren’t always enough to sustain one. We Americans, with our ingrained enthusiasm of youthful vitality, are particularly inclined to forget this. Our political journalists love charting “rising stars” — but when was the last time you saw a listicle on “the 10 old people in Washington who actually make things happen”? Foreign correspondents and diplomats are fond of depicting political struggles in the countries they cover as battles between heroic “young reformers” and the forces of entrenched reaction — a narrative that tends to overlook the many cases in which today’s “young reformer” becomes tomorrow’s geriatric dictator. (Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, it is worth nothing, seized power at 27.)

In short, it’s understandable that we always expect change from the young. But you should never write off the political survivors. My book, “Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century,” includes the stories of two of the last century’s most transformative politicians. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was 76 when he presided over the Iranian Revolution, an event that turned the Middle East on its head (and continues to do so). Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping was 74 when he launched the economic reforms that have since turned his country into a global economic power. Neither man would count as young. But if these two weren’t revolutionaries, I don’t know who is

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