Monthly Archives: August 2019

Angry Pellegrini questions impartiality of referee

City fell behind in their last-16 first-leg clash when Eriksson awarded a penalty to the visitors in the 53rd minute for a foul by Martin Demichelis on fellow Argentine Lionel Messi that appeared to take place outside the area.


To compound the punishment, Demichelis was sent off, leaving City to play the rest of the match down to 10-men, with Messi firing home from the spot and Dani Alves adding a second goal in stoppage time.

Chilean Pellegrini, who normally keeps his own counsel, was highly critical of the Swedish official, who has held a FIFA badge for 12 years and has now refereed 22 Champions League and 87 UEFA matches in total.

Pellegrini, who risks a severe sanction from European soccer’s governing body, told a news conference: “I spoke to him (Eriksson) at the end and told him he should be very happy because he decided the match.

“Barcelona had no chance to score until the penalty against Demichelis.

“The referee was not impartial. He did not have any control of the game. I think it was not a good idea to have a referee from Sweden in such an important match.

“He did not call for a foul on (Jesus) Navas before the penalty. On the penalty, the foul was made outside the box, but more importantly we were building up the play.

“The first mistake was not giving a foul against Navas and then deciding it was a penalty when it was not a penalty.

“But it was not the only thing, he made mistakes from the beginning. It is very difficult to analyse the game because of that.”

Asked why it was relevant that the referee was Swedish, Pellegrini replied: “More important football is played in Europe than in Sweden so a big game with two important teams – that kind of game needs a referee with more experience.”

Pellegrini was also angry that Eriksson had been chosen for Tuesday’s match after he had previously dismissed two Barcelona penalty claims in the 2012 Champions League quarter-final against AC Milan at the San Siro.

“I think it’s a mistake to nominate a referee who has mistakes against Barcelona to have the same referee here,” he told Sky Sports. “I say once again he (the referee) decided the game.”

(Writing by Toby Davis in London, Editing by Ken Ferris)

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Manus detainees need to be processed quickly and given certainty

By Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra


Scott Morrison has been unable to guarantee that there will be no more issues on Manus Island.


(AAP/Alan Porritt)

For the Abbott government, Manus is a literal and political nightmare, as immigration minister Scott Morrison admitted he was unable to guarantee that there wouldn’t be further disturbances.

Other countries, with much more serious pressures from asylum seekers, might wonder how Australia’s outsourced “PNG solution” has come to this. But there was an inevitability about it when detainees live in distressing conditions with no clarity about their future.

Morrison’s answer – that they should not have got on boats – is beside the point.

Following the second consecutive night of violence, this one with a fatality, Tony Abbott spoke with his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Peter O’Neill.

No doubt to his considerable relief, Abbott received assurances that PNG remains committed to the Manus detention centre and to resettling in that country asylum seekers found to be refugees. If PNG tried to go back on its deal, the Australian government would have more trouble.

In the wake of the violence, Abbott also called a meeting in Canberra of cabinet’s national security committee and the government put 100 security personnel on standby.

At morning and evening news conferences, Immigration minister Scott Morrison looked a little shaken but retained some of his usual defiance. Tensions had been there, he said; such a situation had been anticipated, security had recently been strengthened.

People would seek to tear detention centres down; they would make wild allegations, Morrison said. He highlighted that “despite what is a terrible tragedy, the centre stands, the centre operates and the centre was operating first thing this morning.” Breakfast had been served.

The whole thing was cast as another front in the government’s border security war.

Manus Island detention centre. (AAP/Department of Immigration and Citizenship)

So far, a lot of detail is missing about what happened on Monday night. The Iranian died from head injuries but Morrison could not say how or where they were inflicted. Shots were fired by the PNG police, but the circumstances aren’t known. Nor is there any information about how another asylum seeker was shot in the buttocks. Morrison rejected unverified claims that outsiders had attacked the centre and the asylum seekers, but could not be sure people from outside hadn’t gone in.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR visited Manus in October and its report paints a graphic picture of the harsh physical conditions and the detainees’ mood, including their fears about safety following a clash between PNG police and military outside the centre.

The report said bluntly that the PNG practice of detaining all asylum seekers at the closed centre “on a mandatory and open-ended basis, without an individualised assessment as to the necessity, reasonableness and proportionality of the purpose of such detention, amounts to arbitrary detention that is inconsistent with international law”.

It also pointed out that Australia’s responsibilities under international instruments to which it is party “remain engaged and cannot be extinguished by the physical transfer of asylum seekers to PNG”.

The UNHCR made one very key point among many findings and recommendations – and this would surely seem to go to the nub of what the Australian government should be doing.

“UNHCR’s view is that reasonable and appropriate time frames should be implemented and communicated to asylum seekers. This is integral not only for a fair and efficient asylum system, but also for the psycho-social well-being of asylum seekers.”

Uncertainty can be deeply debilitating for people in quite ordinary circumstances, let alone for those who have often been through traumatic experiences and are now locked up in bad conditions.

Setting, in conjunction with PNG, timetables for processing the more than 1300 people on Manus would not be a softening of policy (which the government is determined to avoid at all costs). It would the humane, decent and competent way to proceed.

The processing is done by PNG with Australian mentoring. Somehow Australia has to find a way to have it done more expeditiously. So far, not one person has been found to be a refugee, and Morrison did not think anyone at all had been fully processed.

Asked whether he had a date or a time in his mind for having Manus empty, Morrison said he was “not about to make any sort of speculative forecasts”.

The boats appear to have stopped, with no arrivals for two months. This gives the opportunity to tackle the Manus issue, because it would not be exacerbated by new arrivals. The qualification is that Morrison is threatening to send more people there from Christmas Island.

Forcing the pace of processing would be a start to dealing with the Manus problem, although it would then bring other difficulties including repatriating reluctant people whose claims failed.

The government is determined, as part of its deterrent, to insist that those found to be refugees must be settled in PNG and PNG only. This is something the UNHCR is “very concerned by”. It said in its report that from its nearly 30 years of firsthand experience in the country “it is clear that sustainable integration of non-Melanesian refugees in the socio-economic and cultural life of PNG will raise formidable challenges and protection concerns”.

For people granted asylum on the basis of a genuine fear of persecution in their home country to then need protection from the citizens of their new one would be a cruel twist indeed.

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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Ferguson plays himself on Modern Family

Jesse Tyler Ferguson says being gay lawyer Mitch Pritchett in Modern Family is one of the easiest roles he’s taken on because he’s basically playing himself.


Ferguson and the rest of the Modern Family cast are in Australia to shoot an episode of the hugely popular Network Ten series, in Sydney and on the Great Barrier Reef.

Ferguson said he was initially called to audition for Mitch’s emotionally over-the-top partner Cam Tucker, who is played by the “openly straight” Eric Streetstone.

However, once he was cast as Mitch there was little else to do for the role except turn up on the set each morning and just be himself in the mockumentary-style sitcom.

“Fortunately for me, Mitch is very close to who I am,” Ferguson told AAP.

“When I auditioned for the role, I basically read it for myself and it’s the easiest job I have ever had to do.

“I haven’t had do a lot of research for the role.”

Ferguson says it did take some convincing for the producers to allow him to audition for Mitch after they had him earmarked as Cam on the series, which returns on Monday at 7.30pm.

Mitch’s character was more appealing to Ferguson because it was less flamboyant and, in many ways, a less stereotypical gay role than Cam’s.

To make the producers come around to his way of thinking, Ferguson auditioned for Cam in the same manner the producers were looking to cast Mitch’s character. The ploy worked.

“I read Cameron as I was reading Mitchell because they refused to see me as Mitchell and then they said `you’d be a better Mitchell than Cam’,” Ferguson said.

There was another side of the character Ferguson wanted to explore – the fact it meant being a son and a brother as well.

“I liked the challenge of not just playing Mitchell and being a partner, but a son, and a brother, and I like playing people who are serious and finding that a challenge,” he said.

Ferguson has used his role on the sitcom to fight for marriage equality across the US by selling a designer collection of bow ties under business of Tie The Knot.

Ferguson married his partner Justin Mikita last July in New York and they channel the proceeds from Tie The Knot towards various organisations championing the cause of gay and lesbian rights in the US.

* Modern Family season five returns at 7.30pm on Monday, February 24 on Network Ten

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Cuba makes Hemingway trove available to US

Cuba has released to US researchers copies of more than 2000 documents related to Ernest Hemingway, media reported in Havana, the American literary giant’s home during the 1940s and 1950s.


“More than 2000 documents held at the Finca Vigia Museum in Havana are now available for the first time for researchers in the United States after having been digitised and sent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum,” the Cuba Contemporanea magazine wrote on its website.

Now a museum, Finca Vigia, which means “lookout house” is located in the town of San Francisco de Paula just outside Havana. It was Hemingway’s home during much of his more than two-decade-long residence in Cuba.

Among the treasures now accessible to US scholars at the Kennedy Library in Boston is the 1954 telegram from the Nobel Prize Committee in Sweden informing Hemingway that he had just been awarded its prestigious literature prize.

A statement from the Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts said the trove of documents, which had never seen outside of Cuba, includes letters, passports, telegrams, household accounts, bar bills and recipes.

“We are pleased to make available to researchers copies of these materials that provide a unique glimpse into the everyday life of Ernest Hemingway,” said Tom Putnam, Director of the Kennedy Library.

“For a literary figure who is often portrayed as larger than life, this trove of personal ephemera serves to humanise the man and to understand the writer.”

Officials said it is the second large document release from the Finca Vigia. A first huge tranche of 3000 digitised images was donated to the Kennedy Library in 2008.

Hemingway, who took his own life in 1961 at the age of 61 after returning to the United States, wrote some of his most famous works in Cuba, including For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea.

He was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his mastery of the art of narrative … and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.”

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Barcelona, PSG take huge step in CL

Four-time winners Barcelona and French champions Paris Saint-Germain took huge strides towards the Champions League last eight on Tuesday as they both won away from home in their last-16, first-leg ties.


Barcelona prevailed 2-0 over Manchester City but scoring both their goals, a penalty by Lionel Messi and a late goal by Dani Alves, only after Argentinian defender Martin Demichelis was sent off eight minutes into the second half.

PSG, who were eliminated by Barcelona in the quarter-finals last season, thumped German outfit Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 in Germany but, unlike Barcelona, took the match by the scruff of the neck early on and led 3-0 at halftime with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring two of them.

The City and Barcelona clash turned in the 53rd minute when Demichelis brought down Messi, with replays suggesting the foul happened just outside the penalty area.

However, Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson thought otherwise and not only awarded the penalty but also sent off Demichelis.

City did not wilt and had their chances to pull level but instead were hit by a sucker punch at the end as the always dangerous Alves nipped in to slot home a sweetly-taken goal.

Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas said it had been an important statement by his side in light of some remarks, especially by former Real Madrid and now Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who had said they were the worst Barcelona team of “many years”.

“Some people have been doing a lot of talking, nothing new there with one of them, and hopefully this will make them shut up for a few days,” he said.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini blamed Eriksson for tilting the game in Barcelona’s favour.

“Before the penalty there was the foul on (Jesus) Navas, when he (Eriksson) was three metres from the player, so he saw it without any problem,” Pellegrini said.

“From the beginning I felt that the referee was not impartial to both teams. The penalty on Martin Demichelis was not a penalty – it was outside the box.”

While that match remained tight until the end, the other game was over as a contest by halftime as PSG overwhelmed the German side.

Blaise Matuidi scored the opener and Ibrahimovic struck, the second of his goals was a scorching effort from outside the box.

The hosts’ chances of at least getting a goal back decreased markedly when Bosnian international defender Emir Spahic – who had been responsible for conceding the penalty that Ibrahimovic scored for his first goal – was sent off for a second bookable offence.

“We had a good start and when you are one goal up, it’s easier, it gives you space,” said Ibrahimovic.

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