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Ukraine warns a ‘great war’ is looming with Russia

(Transcripts from SBS World News Radio)

Ukraine is calling it a great war in which tens of thousands of people could die.

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Ukraine’s defence minister says the country is now fighting a war on its doorstep with Russia, the likes of which Europe has not seen since World War Two.

Pro-Russian rebels are still advancing in eastern Ukraine, forcing government forces to withdraw after heavy clashes.

The rebels have gained ground in both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, and further south around the port of Mariupol.

Greg Dyett reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

Ukrainian politicians are describing the conflict as a great war and have even referenced this speech from Winston Churchill from June 1940.

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender.”

And the mayor of Mariupol Yuriy Hotlubey says his town won’t be surrendering either.

He says reinforcement works are underway, in and around the city, which he says is now a fortress.

“I would like to quote the British Prime Minister Churchill statement made in 1940: ‘We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.’ These words are very relevant. Of course we would like to avoid that, but our city is getting prepared anyway.”

As the fighting continues, Ukrainian and Russian officials are holdings talks with separatist rebels and international monitors, in the Belarus city of Minsk.

Russian President Vladamir Putin says the Ukrainian government is refusing to enter into negotiations over the future of eastern Ukraine.

(Trans) “What is the essence of the tragedy that is happening now in Ukraine? I think the main reason is that the Kiev authorities do not want to conduct substantive political dialogue with the east of the country. And now is the beginning of a very important process in my view – the processs of direct negotiations. We have been working on it for a long time and agreed with President Poroshenko in Minsk such contact are starting now.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has outlined a force which will be able to deploy at short notice, in response to what he calls Russia’s “aggressive behaviour.”

He says Russia doesn’t consider NATO a partner, but rather an adversary.

“I strongly regret that, because I do believe that the right thing for Euro-Atlantic security, would be to develop a strong partnership with Russia but of course, we cannot afford to be naïve, we don’t have any illusions we are faced with the reality that Russia considers us an adversary and we will adapt to that situation.”

Russia continues to deny accusations that it’s providing troops and equipment to the rebels.

More than 2,500 people have died in eastern Ukraine since fighting began in April.

The conflict erupting after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in March.

 

 

 

Uncertain future for government’s planned welfare changes

(Transcripts from SBS World News Radio)

Federal government plans to make people under 30 wait six months for the dole may be under review.

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Reports suggest the Abbott government is also looking at reducing the number of job applications required each month to qualify for the welfare payment.

As Amanda Cavill reports, the government says it’s having sensible talks with Senate crossbenchers in a bid to get its controversial changes through the upper house.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

The government’s proposed welfare laws, which would freeze payments for unemployed people who turn down a job offer or miss multiple appointments, will come before the Senate this week.

But the changes are likely to remain unacceptable to the Greens, Labor and some crossbenchers and face certain defeat without substantial changes.

However it’s believed the government is planning to back down on its original timeframe and might adopt that of New Zealand, which has a one month waiting period for its unemployment benefit.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Steve Ciobo says the government is having what he calls “mature conversations” with the Senate crossbench to get the measure passed.

“Really what it underscores is just how stubborn the Australian Labor Party is being because the fact is the Coalition has a clear mandate from the Australian people to get Australia back on track. Discussions with the crossbench to try and put through the kind of structural reforms that we are seeking to make to make sure Australia is on a sustainable footing mean there’s lots of points of conversation in relation to a lot of the government’s initiatives. But again I would call on the Senate to respect the mandate and to put through the various reforms we are making.”

However even if the government is prepared to make concessions it’s still facing opposition from a hostile Senate.

Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt says even a one-month wait is a recipe for homelessness.

“What are you going to tell the landlord when your income gets cut off for a month. A landlord doesn’t care that the government has now backed down in some compromise proposal with the crossbench. They just want the rent to be paid. Whether it’s one month or six months the government should not be kicking young jobseekers off the dole. People should be given a helping hand to find a new job, not put further into poverty.”

Labor MP Stephen Jones has also dismissed the idea saying it’s a ridiculous proposition put forward by Workplace Relations Minister Senator Eric Abetz.

“He uses, in part, evidence that you can’t get short-term labour in the agricultural industry for fruit-picking and vege-picking and the like. Nothing is more likely to put in place a disincentive for people getting short-term work that may lead to longer-term work than telling people under 30 that they’ll be cut off the dole for 6 months every time they lose their job. Every time that you get a few weeks’ work, the clock starts again. It is an absolute mad proposition and the Government shouldn’t be bringing it forward, they should be ditching it.”

But Independent Senator David Leyonhjelm says he could support such a proposal.

He says there are already stringent arrangements in place to ensure Newstart Allowance recipients look for work.

“Yeah that’s an interesting idea. I’m more amenable to that idea than I am to the six months. I flat out reject the six months idea. I’d listen to that idea I haven’t really come to any final conclusion but it’s a lot better than six months.”

Another plan under active consideration for compromise is the Coalition’s intention to require people receiving the Newstart allowance to apply for 40 jobs a month from next year.

The federal government also wants to make it mandatory for jobseekers aged 18 to 49 to work for their welfare payments.

The Senate has already voted down another of the government’s welfare measures.

Last month the Coalition introduced regulations to limit the reasonable excuses job seekers can use if they fail to meet certain requirements, but Labor and the Greens voted together to block the move.

 

 

 

 

Cherry-Evans to step up amid injury woes

Manly’s star playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans says he’ll step up to help rookie Jayden Hodges settle in as the NRL premiership heavyweights deal with a hooker injury crisis.

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The ladder-leading Sea Eagles are suddenly stretched to the limit at hooker after scans revealed first choice Matt Ballin has a fractured fibula and could miss the rest of the NRL season.

Ballin suffered the injury in Manly’s last-gasp win over Penrith at Brookvale Oval on Sunday while his hooker backup Jamie Buhrer copped a season-ending ruptured ACL in the same match.

It further tests Manly’s forwards depth, with Glenn Stewart (ankle) also sidelined for the entire finals series.

Hodges, who has played just one first grade game – in round 17 against Canterbury – takes over as hooker for the final round clash with North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday, when a win can secure the Sea Eagles the minor premiership.

Halfback Cherry-Evans admitted on Wednesday the loss of Ballin and Buher would have a big impact but said it was up to him to help guide 20-year-old Hodges as Ballin had helped him.

“This side is really going to be tested with the durability of our roster,” Cherry-Evans said.

“It’s going to be a difficult transition. Matty Ballin has been tried and tested for so many years and has done an amazing job and made my job so much easier.

“The shoe’s going to be on the other foot this weekend where as a half I’m going to have to help the young, new hooker out.

“I’ve got every belief that, with the ability Jayden has shown, he’ll be able to do a great job and hopefully I can help him as much as possible.”

The injury ends Ballin’s run of 182 consecutive matches for Manly and Cherry-Evans admitted if would be unfair to expect Hodges to have the same influence.

“He (Ballin)is an ironman of modern day rugby league. He’s done an unbelievable job and the quality of football he’s upheld in that time has been amazing,” Cherry-Evans said.

“There’s some big shoes to fill for Jayden, but I’ve got no doubt he’ll do a great job – maybe not Matty Ballin’s job but he’ll do a good job.”

Ballin was disappointed to have the fracture confirmed after secondary scans and said it appeared an innocuous injury at first, with the hooker playing on for a further 22 minutes before being replaced.

He still held some hope of returning if the Sea Eagles progress deep into the finals.

“Hopefully the boys do a great job in the next game, then the semi-finals and then I can be back for some games towards the end of the year,” he said.

Nuns changed child migrant’s name

The name of a child migrant was changed by nuns before he sailed from Northern Ireland to Australia in an effort to ensure he could not be traced, a public inquiry has heard.

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Seasick children vomited from the decks and cried on their way to a new identity and life in a country they knew nothing about.

One nun said: “I hope that ship sinks on the way out there as punishment for misbehaving.”

Once they arrived some children were subjected to sexual and physical abuse by members of the Christian Brothers Catholic religious order at Clontarf in Western Australia, the inquiry has heard.

The decision to change the name of one child was signed by a senior nun (mother superior) in Northern Ireland on behalf of the Catholic Council for Child Welfare, the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry was told on Tuesday.

He was told not to change it back when he arrived in Australia following the month-long passage from Northern Ireland. A witness statement said he was never asked did he want to go.

“I had no idea where Australia was, my mother was never told about going there.”

The nuns fitted him out with clothes for the trip.

“The last thing they did was change my name.

“I think they wanted to ensure I could not be traced.”

Some participants in the child migration scheme were told they were going on holiday and had no idea how far it was.

A boy said he had no chance to say goodbye to his father and was one of eight in a cabin, spending most of the time below deck, with passengers often going up only to be sick.

When he arrived in Fremantle he asked a nun when he would be going home.

“She hit me a clout over the ear.

“We did not realise how far Australia was from Ireland. We did not at any stage realise that we would not be going home.

“We were just orphans in their view and had to do what we were told.”

The inquiry’s public hearings run for three weeks.

Federer shines again under Arthur Ashe floodlights

The 26-year-old Spaniard was handed the unenviable task of trying to upset the 17-time grand slam winner on Arthur Ashe Stadium court, where the Swiss maestro has a dazzling 25-1 record under the Flushing Meadows floodlights.

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It quickly became clear there would be no power shortage on Tuesday as Federer raced to a 5-1 lead in opening set then eased off the gas and coasted to an unflustered win in just under two hours.

“I felt like I had maybe some margin,” said Federer. “He hasn’t got the biggest game but he’s consistent. He’s fast. He can adapt. So he’s got things that can make you feel uncomfortable, I must say.

“He can absorb pace well. From that standpoint, even though I did feel I had margin because I never played him before, I was still pushing forward all along and trying to always keep a gap between him and me in terms of the result and the scoreline.”

Next up for Federer is a player he knows very well, 20th seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils, who was earlier a 7-5 7-6 (6) 7-5 winner over seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

Federer and Monfils have clashed nine times with the Swiss holding a 7-2 advantage but the former world number one will be wary of the enigmatic Frenchman, who many rate as among the most gifted on the men’s tour.

While Federer holds a big edge in their head-to-head clashes, they have split their four most recent matches with the 17-time grand slam winner coming out on top in their most recent meeting just last month in Cincinnati.

“He’s got easy top 10 potential,” said Federer. “He’s a great mover. He’s got a wonderful serve, really, which nobody really talks about because of his athletic movement which stands out so much.

“His issues have really been just his fitness and his setbacks he’s had because of injury. Then sometimes maybe not wanting to play sometimes because of reasons only he can explain.

“I think I can speak on behalf of so many players: We love watching him play. It’s nice seeing him do well again. He’s going to rise in the rankings now, and maybe that’s exactly the stepping stones he needs to make it back in the top 10.”

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

All Blacks clinch England series with 28-27 win

Flyhalf Aaron Cruden slotted a conversion and two penalties, while his replacement Beauden Barrett added a conversion and a penalty for the home side who now have an 16-match unbeaten streak.

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Winger Marland Yarde, fullback Mike Brown and Chris Ashton scored tries for England, while Owen Farrell, who was sinbinned for a professional foul midway through the second half, slotted three conversions and two penalties.

The All Blacks are now unbeaten in 32 tests in New Zealand, a run stretching back almost five years and have won 28 of their 30 internationals since they clinched their second World Cup in 2011.

They had been under pressure from coach Steve Hansen and captain Richie McCaw to lift their performance after the bumbling 20-15 victory at Eden Park last week.

Both, however, would have been ruing their side’s start with all of England’s first half points came in a blistering opening 10 minutes when they denied the All Blacks the ball and the home side fell foul of referee Jaco Peyper, which allowed the visitors to kick downfield for attacking lineouts.

Farrell slotted an early penalty and converted Marland Yarde’s seventh-minute try after England scrumhalf Danny Care had delayed his pass until the defenders were committed and the winger burst through McCaw’s tackle.

All Blacks flyhalf Aaron Cruden responded with two first half penalties before the home side exploded early in the second half, finally managing to hold on to the ball as they launched a breathtaking counter-attack from 80 metres out that led to fullback Smith going in under the posts.

Savea then went over in the corner to cap off a 12-point scoring burst inside five minutes before Nonu grabbed the third try when Farrell was in the sinbin.

Brown scored inside the final 10 minutes to keep England within sight, but by the time Ashton scored his try in the final minute the game was over and only made the scoreline look closer than the match was.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Kings beat Rangers to win NHL Stanley Cup

The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup, beating the New York Rangers 3-2 in double overtime to seize their second NHL championship in three seasons.

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Alec Martinez scored the game-winner with 5:17 remaining in the second overtime to seal the victory late on Friday.

Kings left wing Kyle Clifford fired a shot from the top of the right circle that Tyler Toffoli tipped before Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist turned it aside with his right pad.

The rebound bounced to the low left side, where Martinez was waiting to fire it home.

“Toffoli had a great shot, far pad, and fortunately the rebound came to me and I was able to put it in,” said Martinez, who also scored the overtime game-winner against the Chicago Blackhawks in game seven of the Western Conference finals.

“It was a great play by them,” Martinez said. “I’m just the benefactor.”

The Kings won the best-of-seven title series 4-1, adding the crown to the club’s first championship captured in 2012.

The Kings had led the series 3-0. They were denied a four-game sweep when the Rangers won 2-1 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday to send the series back to Los Angeles, where the Kings completed an unlikely title run with another gritty win.

The Kings were the first team in NHL history to reach the Stanley Cup finals with three game-seven victories on the road.

They went the distance against San Jose in the opening round, won the last two games against Anaheim in the second round and downed the defending champion Blackhawks in seven games to win the West.

“What we went through to get to this point is unique. Obviously every Stanley Cup is special in its own way, but we really had to earn this one,” said Justin Williams, who gave the Kings a 1-0 lead just 6:04 minutes into the first period on Friday.

His ninth goal of the playoffs, to go with 16 assists, earned Williams the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the post-season.

But the Kings, who had to rally for overtime victories in games one and two against the Rangers, soon had to demonstrate their resilience again.

Second-period goals from forwards Chris Kreider and Brian Boyle gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead, Kreider scoring on a power play with 4:23 left in the second and Boyle notching a short-handed goal with 30 seconds left.

Los Angeles poured on the pressure in the third period and forward Marian Gaborik knotted the score at 2-2 with a power-play goal with 12:04 left in the third.

After Rangers left wing Mats Zuccarello was sent off for tripping, Kings defenceman Drew Doughty fired a shot that Lundqvist stopped.

The rebound fell in the crease and Gaborik slotted the puck between Lundqvist’s legs for the equaliser – his league-leading 14th goal of the post-season.

An action-packed first overtime period had fans at Staples Center on their feet, but neither team could break through.

New York defenceman Ryan McDonagh and the Kings’ Toffoli had the best chances in the first overtime, McDonagh hitting the post with one shot and Toffoli seeing one rattle off the crossbar.

“We knew it was going be a tough series,” Martinez said. “There were a lot of guys who have been around from a couple of years ago. We know the fourth one is definitely the hardest one to get.

“We just had to dig deep and just keep grinding away. We believed that we were going to win this game.”

Army chief wants more women in more forces

Australia’s army chief has told a global audience that militaries that don’t become more inclusive, particularly by allowing women to serve on the front line, “do nothing to distinguish the soldier from the brute”.

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Lieutenant General David Morrison was speaking at a London summit focused on ending rape in war zones.

He was invited to speak alongside British Foreign Secretary William Hague and US actor Angelina Jolie on the back of his 2013 video message telling sexist members of the armed forces to “get out”.

Lt Gen Morrison delivered the blunt warning to troops following yet another sex scandal. It became a YouTube hit with 1.5 million views.

In London on Friday he encouraged militaries around the world to open up all areas of service to women as a way of changing their culture and helping end sexual violence.

“It wipes away the barriers to achieving potential and sends a clarion call to all who serve that talent will prevail, not gender.”

He said some militaries were changing their culture in order to become more capable and that was cause for hope.

“Armies that revel in their separateness from civil society, that value the male over the female, that use their imposed values to exclude those who don’t fit the particular traits of the dominant group, who celebrate the violence that is integral to my profession rather than seeking ways to contain it – they do nothing to distinguish the soldier from the brute.”

Australian delegation head Natasha Stott Despoja said Lt Gen Morrison was a “bigger star” at the conference than Ms Jolie who is a UN special envoy.

“He had a powerful message,” Ms Stott Despoja told reporters.

“He reminded people, both in the symbolism of him standing up there in his uniform but also with his words, that the military have a key role to play in ending this awful, abhorrent, sexual violence in conflict.”

The former Democrats leader said the role of victims and survivors was “fundamental” in helping governments prevent future violence.

“We need to remove the stigma and the shame associated with what they’ve been through and move it onto the perpetrators,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

She was quizzed about Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers some of whom may have suffered sexual violence in warzones.

Canberra sends everyone arriving by boat to detention centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

“I’m always concerned about anyone who has experienced violence, and in particular sexual violence – whether that’s a man, a woman, a boy or a girl – ending in another institution be that a detention centre or elsewhere,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

More than 150 countries, including Australia, signed an action statement on Friday.

The summit also endorsed a new protocol relating to the investigation and documentation of sexual violence in conflict areas.

Lt Gen Morrison acknowledged he’d received some “notoriety” for making a stand against sexist behaviour in the military but insisted he wasn’t the star of the London summit.

That honour went to conference delegates who’d travelled from around the world to help end sexual violence, the army chief said.

Australia has lifted the restriction on women serving in combat roles with internal transfers opening in January 2013.

Women recruits will be able to apply direct for combat units from 2016.

Labor says Abbott to target carers

Labor says Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reached a new low in planning to target the many people who care for the sick, disabled and elderly.

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Labor families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said the government was targeting the welfare payments, supplements and allowance that carers relied while performing incredibly important work.

That relates to the government’s broad-ranging review of welfare by former head of Mission Australia Patrick McClure.

His review hasn’t been released yet but The Australian newspaper says carers would be required to prepare for a return to work.

It says the government is concerned the current system of “set and forget” means carers could finish caring with no real skills for work. Carer payments are also rising by almost 10 per cent a year and are expected to reach $17.1 billion by 2023-24

The paper said the government was considering linking carer payments to the disability support pension.

That sparked outrage from Labor.

“Tony Abbott has reached a new low,” Ms Macklin told reporters in Melbourne.

She said Mr Abbott needed to understand that carers were working 24 hours a day, looking after the sick and disabled and elderly.

“Now Tony Abbott is saying that in addition to doing your caring role you are going to have to get ready to look for work,” she said.

Labor shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said he was worried when proposals such as this came from a government with such a poor track record of looking after the most vulnerable.

“This is a government that needs to be judged by its track record and if you’re a young person, if you’re a pensioner, if you’re somebody … with a disability, then the track record is not good at all,” he told Sky News.

The government now has the McClure discussion paper on welfare reforms and is reviewing it in light of budget changes.

The paper will then be released for public consultation.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann wasn’t commenting on specific measures.

“Whatever reforms we will pursue … will focus on making sure that our welfare system which currently draws 35 per cent of our budget… is sustainable and affordable over the medium to long term,” he told Sky News.

Nationals leader Warren Truss, acting prime minister while Mr Abbott is overseas, said the ability to provide a future safety net would be undermined if there were no constraints on spending.

Mr Truss said welfare needed to be targeted to those who needed it.

“We believe that it is important that there is an ongoing facility available to support those who can’t care for themselves,” he told reporters in Queanbeyan.

“If you keep spending money that you don’t have, then the welfare system as well will collapse.”

All Blacks flyhalf Carter returns to field

He did not appear for the second half to the disappointment of the large crowd who had turned up to watch him make his long-awaited comeback.

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Carter had been granted the six-month sabbatical by the New Zealand Rugby Union as part of his contract that expires at the end of 2015.

Carter, like All Blacks captain Richie McCaw last year, chose to take a six-month break from all rugby to have ankle surgery and try to recover from niggling injuries in an attempt to ensure he would be fit for next year’s World Cup in England.

He had not played since he limped off 26 minutes into his 100th test match, against England at Twickenham last November, just one of a series of injuries that have restricted his appearances for the All Blacks in the last three years.

Carter’s All Blacks team mates are due to play England in the second test of their three-match series later on Saturday in Dunedin.

LACKING FITNESS

Local media reported Carter had shown some of the touches that have prompted pundits to call him arguably the best flyhalf in world rugby though was also visibly short of match fitness and out of breath during periods of the game.

He is expected to rejoin his Super Rugby franchise the Canterbury Crusaders after the international break, though it is still unclear whether he will turn out for them before the playoffs.

The Crusaders have three regular season games remaining and lead the New Zealand conference on 41 points.

Injuries notwithstanding, Carter is expected to be named in the All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship and take part in the “match of three halves” on Aug. 8.

McCaw made his return to the New Zealand team in similar circumstances where the All Blacks play half a game each against two provincial sides as a final warmup before the annual southern hemisphere competition.

The two provincial sides then play each other for 40 minutes.

This year they will face North Harbour and Northland at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland on Aug. 8 before they meet the Wallabies in their Rugby Championship opener in Sydney on Aug. 16.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O’Brien)