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Month: August, 2019

Defence silent on calls

WILLIAMTOWN residents are angry –and the Department of Defence is silent –after Defence lawyers approached at least two businesses in the water contamination red zone and allegedly asked one business owner if she was planning to sue the department.
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Residents rallied behind the businesswoman, who did not want to be identified because her business hasbeen seriously affected by the Williamtown RAAF Base contamination scandal, after she was phoned without warning by Defence two weeks ago and asked for a meeting several days later.

The woman, who hadonly just returned to work after months tackling a severe and debilitating conditionand was still heavily medicated, said she was mystified why Defence contacted her “out of the blue” because she had not taken part in any community action after the contamination scandal became public in September.

Object: Williamtown residents (from left) Brian and Julie Curry, Mel Marshall, Julie Bailey and Rhianna and Cain Gorfine are angry with Defence. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

She was concerned after two of the three Defence personnel identified themselves as Defence lawyers and notes were taken of the meeting. She wasconfused about why she would have been asked “So you’re not going to sue us?”, after Defence earlier advised her no fire fighting foam contaminants were found in bores and dams on her property.

The woman said she did not have a lawyer with her, despite Defence telling her in the initial phone call thatshe could have a lawyer.

“I had no reason to think I needed legal representation, but now l’m thinking, what the hell is going on?” the businesswoman said.

The businesswoman raised a serious noise complaint with Defence about four or five years ago after an incident involving jet noise.

A second businesswoman in the red zone confirmed she had also received an unexpected phone call from Defence, and met with Defence lawyers two weeks ago who asked questions about her business.

Williamtown and Surrounds Residents’ Action Group,which is considering a class action against the Department of Defence over the impact of the contamination scandal, responded angrily to the Defence move.

“Defence should not be approaching people out of the blue and arriving with lawyers,” spokeswoman Rhianna Gorfine said.

Defence has not responded to questions sent one week ago, or acknowledged questions sent by text message to one of the Defence lawyers involved.

University is adapting fine arts to support its students

For decades, The University of Newcastle (UON) has been graduating students from a diverse range of creative disciplines including music, creative writing, performing arts, fine art, communication, design and natural history illustration. We have graduated many artists who have gone on to contribute to the creative vitality of our region.
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We are fortunate to live and work in a region that has been such a significant creative hub, across theatre, all forms of visual art, music and cultural festivals, and more recently as a centre of design, audio-visual production and new media. Hunter communities are strong supporters of the creative arts and industries, adding vibrancy to our region’s social, cultural and economic landscape, and contributing to our sense of wellbeing and social inclusion.

OPPORTUNITY: Hunter communities are strong supporters of the creative arts, adding vibrancy to our region’s social, cultural and economic landscape. Picture: Marina Neil

Creative industries are often micro businesses or small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that focus on local markets, but can also develop into powerful economic clusters, helping to drive economic growth. As our region transitions from a resources-based economy, the creative industries can be significant players in developing a new identity and leveraging the unique position of Newcastle and the Hunter in Australia’s contemporary visual, performing and creative arts scene.

The key trends in creative arts education are toward graduates that are creative and visionary but are also adaptable and skilled across the spectrum of creative professions. Creative people today want both artistic and financial freedom. Many desire to turn their creative ideas into experiences, products and services that add to our lives in meaningful ways.

As a result, the University has launched a strategy to ensure that future generations of students across the creative sectors graduate with the skills they need to succeed in the new innovation-based economy.

From 2017, UON will be offering new degrees in the creative industries at Bachelor and Masters level. As part of this journey of reinvention, Fine Art will now be taught from within the Bachelor of Creative Industries, which will open up a range of options for students that are in demand.

Our new degrees will offer students the choice to specialise in a chosen field of individual creative interest, such as visual art, performing arts, music, design, IT or communication and media, or the option of study across this wide range of disciplines. This choice of breadth or depth will be built around a core of critical courses in entrepreneurship, business skills, digital capabilities and social innovation, all within the creative context, and designed to help our students succeed in their chosen field.

Unlike any other degrees previously offered in this area, students will now have the opportunity to develop professional networks, work with a range of stakeholders and audiences, and develop sought-after skills for future employment and entrepreneurial possibilities.

Whether students pursue a solo artistic career, or aspire to be part of a start-up, or aim to work for an established corporation, the range of skills delivered by our new degrees will allow them to sustainably shape their own future and their social and cultural environments.

The University is proud to lead this creative industries enterprise by offering a unique combination of education, research and innovation activity that will build on our community’s creative heritage.

Professor John Germov,Pro Vice-Chancellor,Faculty of Education and Arts

‘Problem’ emerges in plan to enlist Margaret Cunneen in Eddie Obeid’s ICAC battle

Eddie Obeid outside the Supreme Court in Darlinghurst in February. Photo: Edwina Pickles.Cunneen may be enlisted in Obeid’s ICAC battle
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A “problem” has emerged in Eddie Obeid’s plan to enlist controversial Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen in his lawsuit against the corruption watchdog, the Supreme Court has heard.

Mr Obeid, 72, and three of the former NSW Labor minister’s five sons are suing the ICAC for damages over the watchdog’s pursuit of the family in an inquiry into a lucrative coal deal.

The Supreme Court heard last year that one of the witnesses the Obeids may seek to call is Ms Cunneen, SC, who successfully challenged the watchdog’s power to investigate her over allegations of perverting the course of justice.

Her evidence could be relevant to whether the ICAC had a tendency to “knowingly ignore the law in the execution of search warrants”, the Obeids’ barrister, Robert Newlinds, SC, told the court in December.

Justice David Davies said at the time it was “somewhat unusual” for tendency evidence to be raised in a civil rather than criminal case.

Neil Williams, SC, who is acting for two ICAC investigators who are being sued as part of the case, told the court on Tuesday there was a question about whether “tendency evidence was admissible at all” and it might need to be “agitated at some point”.

“The witness statement of Ms Cunneen is the one that particularly concerns my clients,” he said.

“If she has refused to sign an affidavit this should be made clear to the court.”

A witness statement sets out the oral evidence a party in a court case intends to elicit from a witness in the box.

Court rules provide that witness statements should be “signed by the intended witness unless the signature of the witness cannot be procured or the court orders otherwise”.

“Is Ms Cunneen still the problem in terms of the signing?” Justice Davies asked on Tuesday.

“I think so,” Mr Newlinds said.

But Mr Newlinds said he understood Ms Cunneen had said “yes, she’ll come [and give evidence] if subpoenaed”.

He agreed her evidence was “tendency evidence if anything” and said a decision had not yet been made “about whether we go down that path”.

The Obeids allege the ICAC falsely claimed to have obtained damning evidence against them during a raid on the family’s Birkenhead Point offices. The watchdog has denied the claim.

Allegations the commission failed to comply with search warrant procedures in the ill-fated Cunneen inquiry have also been made. ICAC Inspector David Levine, QC, said in a report in December that the agency had unlawfully seized the mobile phones of Ms Cunneen and others.

The watchdog’s head, former Supreme Court judge Megan Latham, has said the report is “so fundamentally flawed” it should be withdrawn or rejected.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Sydney FC v Guangzhou Evergrande – The Lowdown

One to watch: Guangzhou striker Jackson Martinez will attract plenty of attention. Photo: James AlcockAsian Champions League, Group Stage: Sydney FC v Guangzhou Evergrande
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Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Kick-Off: 8pm AET

TV Broadcast: Live on Fox Sports

Odds: Sydney FC $4.33, Guangzhou Evergrande $1.75, Draw $3.60 (Ladbrokes)

Twitter: #SYDvGUA

LIKELY TEAMS 

Sydney FC (4-2-3-1): Janjetovic; Grant, Jurman, Anderson, Ryall; Dimitrijevic, Tavares; Carney, Ninkovic, Hoole; Smeltz.

Guangzhou Evergrande (4-2-3-1): Cheng: Li, Kim, Feng, Zhang; Paulinho, Zheng; Rong, Goulart, Zheng; Martinez

FIVE TO WATCH

1. David Carney (Sydney FC)

Scored a magnificent equaliser for the Sky Blues against Melbourne Victory last weekend but then foolishly picked up a yellow card, ruling him out of this weekend’s clash with Melbourne City. He can make up for his domestic absence by running amok here.

2. Jackson Martinez (Guangzhou Evergrande)

Stop the presses: Martinez is the most important signing in the history of Asian football – and certainly the most expensive. At $65 million, that transfer puts China behind only England, Spain, Italy and France as the nations with the most expensive transfer fees. Will he score his first competitive goal for the club in Sydney?

3. Shane Smeltz (Sydney FC)

Led the line without luck last week in Tokyo against Urawa and with Matt Simon and Alex Brosque both injured, will almost certainly do so again. It’s been a lean year for the Kiwi forward but he’ll get ample opportunities in the coming weeks to prove he’s still capable at this level.

4. Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande)

Didn’t set the world on fire as expected at Tottenham Hotspur and when there was an opening for the Brazilian to leave, Guangzhou pounced. He produced a brilliant first season in China and should control the midfield from the opening whistle.

5. Vedran Janjetovic (Sydney FC)

Managed to restrict the Victory to just a solitary goal and that should give him some confidence after a difficult run between the posts. He’ll know Guangzhou’s attack will be out to make his night as busy as possible.

THE KEY MATCH-UP

Richardo Goulart (Guangzhou Evergrande) v Mickael Tavares (Sydney FC)

Arnold has lost faith with Tavares of late but with Guangzhou’s brilliant foreign attackers in a class of their own, the Senegalese holding midfielder probably has to come in. Goulart is a freakish No.10, scoring 19 goals in 27 league games last year. He was Brazilian league player of the year in 2014. Enough said.

IN THE DUGOUT

Graham Arnold (Sydney FC)

Arnold loves nothing more than sharing the dugout with the biggest names in the game – testing his own strategies and beliefs. His Sydney side meets Guangzhou having gone winless in six A-League games and having been defeated in their last ACL game. If nothing else, it would be a memorable night to stop the rot.

Luiz Felipe Scolari (Guangzhou Evergrande)

Call him what you like – Phil Scolari, Big Phil or Filipao – the 67-year-old is known worldwide as one of the game’s most charismatic figures. He’s a World Cup-winning coach who has worked in nations as diverse as England, Japan, Kuwait, Portugal and Uzbekistan. After guiding Brazil to the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup, he’s won the league and ACL double last year with Guangzhou.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Iran’s voters back nuclear deal and their president despite roadblocks

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani waves to media after casting his vote in Tehran, Iran, on Friday. Photo: Handout/AP Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballot in Tehran, Iran, on Friday. Photo: Handout/AP
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Ultraconservative Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who heads the powerful Guardian Council, Iran’s top electoral oversight body, was re-elected. Photo: AP/File

Vote heralds most crucial choice in 30 years

Washington: The Iranian parliament is not a repository of great power. Yet in terms of the signal sent to the country’s powerbrokers and to the world, the votes cast by millions at the weekend amounted to a political thunderclap – in going to the polls, Iranians didn’t get substantive change, but that they said they wanted change was substantive.

The ranks of the hardliners who controlled the national parliament were slashed dramatically – down from 112 to 68. It was reformists and so-called moderate-conservative factions that walked away with control – between them, they captured 158 seats in the 290-seat parliament, which included a clean sweep of all 30 seats representing the capital.

The elections – for the parliament and separately for Assembly of Experts, which appoints Iran’s Supreme Leader – were seen as a referendum on reformist President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected in 2013; and on a deal that he championed, by which Tehran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in return for the lifting of Western economic sanctions.

Nearly every hardline candidate who voiced criticism of the nuclear deal was defeated.

In the 88-strong Assembly of Experts, the coalition of reformists and moderate conservatives that won out in the parliament captured almost two-thirds of the seats.

Rouhani will face less criticism in the new parliament and he will probably be more cordial to the West. But power in Iran continues to rest with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the religious and security establishment.

And while it is they who make the big decisions on foreign and economic, social and religious policy, the February 26 votes are an expression of the people’s will that might inform their decision-making in the face of calls by Rouhani for greater liberalisation.

Khamenei is an arch-critic of the US – and in his only public comment on the elections, he praised the 60-plus per cent voter turnout, not the outcome.

But despite his harsh rhetoric, some analysts insist that Khamenei is conscious of Iranian public opinion and that, at age 76 and in poor health, he is concerned about a legacy that would be greater than having merely preserved the Islamic Revolution – hence his support for the nuclear deal and the economic benefits it might bring.

Rouhani, on the other hand, faces re-election in 2017. And in pushing for reforms that might please voters, he runs the risk of a backlash from vested interests – be they the Revolutionary Guard Corps, which reputedly controls as much as two-thirds of the economy, or the religious hardliners who justify their own existence by insisting on conservative social policies.

“This election can be a turning point in the history of the Islamic Republic,” according to an editorial in the reformist newspaper Mardom-Salari. “The biggest achievement of this election is the return of reformists to the ruling system … so they won’t be called seditionists or infiltrators anymore.”

Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of the conservative, Khamenei-aligned Kayhan newspaper, claimed that the reformists were attempting to create “an illusion of victory”.

Quoted by Reuters, he said: “The structure of Iran’s ruling system is such that no political faction can change the main policies rooted in its core principles.”

In the circumstances of politics Iran-style, the election outcome was remarkable. Hardliners and revolution diehards used their grip on the levers of non-parliamentary power to thwart voices for change – thousands of reformist election candidates were disqualified by an unelected Guardian Council; activists were detained; opposition campaigns were ignored by powerful state media outlets; and rallies and other political events were curtailed.

But in a matter of days, what could be described as the more centrist forces on the very narrow and conservative Iranian political spectrum turned to social media and word of mouth to get Iranians to coalesce behind a slate of candidates, dubbed “the list of hope”, of whom they knew very little.

When the bulk of would-be reformist candidates were excluded, the reformists were obliged to fall back on little-known second and third-tier reformists and on a carefully selected crop of conservatives, variously described as “moderate”, “pragmatic” and “centrist”, who they believed would be prepared to work with them on some – if not all – issues.

Shervin Malekzadeh, a visiting professor at Swarthmore College, in Pennsylvania, saw irony in the vote.

“Iran is becoming more democratic in spite of itself,” he wrote in The Washington Post.

“If the line against radicalism holds, as it already appears to have held … the story of these elections will be of how, in one of the great ironies of Iran’s post-revolutionary political development, the intransigence of the Guardian Council helped provide the necessary basis for the formation of a more tolerant and pluralist politics in Iran.”

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.