Fijian soldier to start on England wing

Fijian-born Semesa Rokoduguni will start on the wing for England in his Test debut against the All Blacks at Twickenham.


Rokoduguni, a soldier in the British Army who has served in Afghanistan, has impressed this season for Bath with his speed and flair.

The 27-year-old will mark Julian Savea in Saturday’s Test in one of six changes to the starting XV from England’s last Test – the 36-13 loss to the All Blacks in June to complete a 3-0 whitewash.

The forward pack is identical with the exception of lock Dave Attwood, who replaces the injured Joe Launchbury.

Attwood’s inclusion depended on the timing of his first child’s arrival. His fiancee gave birth on Tuesday, clearing him to start alongside Courtney Lawes.

South African Brad Barritt returns at centre, creating a previously untried centre combination with rugby league convert Kyle Eastmond.

England coach Stuart Lancaster said Rokoduguni had knocked very loudly on the selectors’ door.

“Wing is an extremely competitive position but he has pushed himself forward with his form this season and it’s great to be able to give him this opportunity.”

Injuries have robbed England of at least nine contenders, with the tight five particularly hard hit.

New Zealand-raised hooker Dylan Hartley is the only half-centurion in the team, with 57 caps.

Two other uncapped players are on the reserves bench – Saracens lock George Kruis and back Anthony Watson, who brings the number of Bath players to seven.

England: Mike Brown, Semesa Rokoduguni, Brad Barritt, Kyle Eastmond, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Danny Care, Billy Vunipola, Chris Robshaw, Tom Wood, Courtney Lawes, Dave Attwood, David Wilson, Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler. Res: Rob Webber, Matt Mullan, Kieran Brookes, George Kruis, Ben Morgan, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Anthony Watson

Charges expected in Vic toddler’s death

Charges may soon be laid in the case of toddler Daniel Thomas who, according to Victoria’s coroner, was killed by his baby sitter as his mother failed to intervene.


Homicide detectives have completed their investigation into Daniel’s 2003 death, which was the subject of a coronial inquest earlier this year.

Victoria Police have confirmed their fresh investigation into the child’s death is now complete, and a file has been handed to the Office of Public Prosecutions.

The Seven Network reported on Thursday a murder charge may soon be laid against Daniel’s baby sitter Mandy Martyn.

His mother Donna Thomas may also soon be charged with reckless conduct endangering life.

“Homicide Squad detectives have submitted a brief of evidence to the OPP for opinion in relation to their investigation into the death of Daniel Thomas,” Victoria Police said in a statement.

“Detectives will await the advice from the OPP and as such we are not in a position to comment any further.”

In July, Victoria’s coroner found two-year-old Daniel died in a Myrtleford home, in late 2003, from abuse suffered at the hands of Ms Martyn, his baby sitter.

The abuse over six weeks included the toddler being tied to his bed, locked in a cupboard, gagging and beatings, and his head being held under water.

The coroner also found Ms Thomas contributed to Daniel’s death by failing to protect her son.

Daniel was reported missing and his body not found until 2008.

The women have denied involvement.


* September, 2003: Daniel and his mother Donna Thomas move into Mandy Martyn’s Myrtleford home. Ms Thomas withdraws Daniel from child care centre. Staff report him as healthy and normal at the time

* October, 2003: Ms Martyn tells police Daniel is missing

* March 18, 2008: A dog finds Daniel’s remains under the Myrtleford house in which Ms Thomas used to live

* December, 2013: Coronial inquest hears Ms Martyn tortured him

* July, 2014: Coroner finds Ms Martyn caused Daniel’s death and Ms Thomas failed to protect him

* November, 2014: Homicide police hand the results of a fresh investigation to the Office of Public Prosecutions.

Roma restore respectability after 7-1 ‘accident’

However, both Roma themselves and the Italian media acknowledge the huge gulf in class between the Bundesliga champions and Serie A runners-up over the two games.


“Bayern too much for Roma,” sports daily Corriere dello Sport said on its front page. “The Giallorossi limit the damage in Munich.”

In comments that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago when Serie A teams dominated the Champions League, coach Rudi Garcia and has players seemed happy to have kept the scoreline down to a respectable 2-0.

Rather like his Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers at Real Madrid, Garcia seemed to accept his team had little realistic hope of winning in Munich and preferred to save his top players for Sunday’s Serie A clash against Torino.

The Frenchman made five changes to the side thumped in the first leg, surprisingly leaving out creative players such as talismanic forward Francesco Totti, winger Gervinho and midfielder Miralem Pjanic.

“I congratulate the boys because we were able to cancel out the image of the first leg,” said Garcia. “All the guys did a good job because against Bayern you need to be well organised.

“I made certain choices to ensure we have a compact team and to ensure we have some fresh legs on Sunday,” he added.

“For our part, we have created a few chances but could not open the door and when we did we came up against Manuel Neuer, the best goalkeeper in the world.”

Midfielders Daniele De Rossi and Radja Nainggolan took a similar line as they recognised Bayern’s crushing superiority.

“We have agreed that Bayern are stronger,” De Rossi said. “We got everything right and played differently compared to two weeks ago, we gave a different impression although it was difficult to do as badly as we did two weeks ago.

“We understand that they are two steps ahead of us, we tried to adapt to their game,” added Nainggolan.

“They didn’t have any clear chances apart from the two goals. The other match was just an accident.”

Despite effectively losing 9-1 on aggregate, Roma are still well-placed to qualify for the last 16 thanks to Manchester City’s shock 2-1 home defeat by CSKA Moscow.

Wednesday’s results have left Roma and CSKA with four points each while the Premier League champions have two. Bayern, with a maximum 12 points, have qualified for the last 16 as group winners.

Roma, who beat CSKA 5-1 at home, visit the Russians in their next match before hosting City in the final game.

“If someone had told us that after two matches with Bayern, we would have still been second, I would have happily accepted that,” said Garcia.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Ed Osmond)

Jackson father concerned over death circumstances

The father of Michael Jackson says he remains concerned about the circumstances of his son’s death as the tragic pop icon’s personal doctor protested his innocence.


In a surprising first public appearance since the death of his superstar son, family patriarch Joe Jackson appeared on the red carpet of a Los Angeles awards show dedicated to the African-American entertainment industry.

The Jackson family is reportedly angry at the “unanswered questions” concerning the role of doctor Conrad Murray in the final hours of Michael Jackson’s life.

Lawyers for Murray insist he has been cleared of wrongdoing.

However, speaking to a CNN reporter at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards, Jackson, 79, said he continued to harbour misgivings about the sudden death of his son at the age of 50.

“I have a lot of concerns. I can’t get into that, but I don’t like what happened,” Jackson said, before directing questions to a family lawyer who declined to comment further.

“We can’t talk about that now,” lawyer Londell McMillan said. “There is a second autopsy that is underway and we’ll let that process take its course at this time. We’ll have more detail at a later point.”

Joe Jackson said his grandchildren – two boys and a girl – were his first priority now. “They’re fine. They’re with us,” he said.

The children know their father has died, he said. Los Angeles police conducted a second interview with Murray on Saturday but cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing, the doctor’s lawyers said.

The 51-year-old cardiologist, who became part of Jackson’s staff in March to help the singer prepare for a concert comeback in London, has faced intense speculation amid reports he injected Jackson with the potent prescription painkiller Demerol just before he died.

However, a lawyer for Murray said that reports of an injection were “absolutely false”, the first time the allegation has been denied.

“There was no Demerol. No OxyContin,” Edward Chernoff, a lawyer for Murray was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times, adding that Murray had discovered Jackson unconscious in the bedroom of his home.

“(Murray) was the one who suggested the autopsy to the family while they were still in the hospital.

He didn’t understand why Michael Jackson had died,” Chernoff was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Jackson’s family have yet to finalise funeral plans and were due to meet activist Reverend Al Sharpton on Sunday to discuss plans for a tribute.

Sharpton was cited in several media reports as saying Jackson’s family was considering a series of simultaneous memorials around the world to reflect the huge appeal of the late King of Pop.

“Reverend Sharpton will discuss with the family ideas that people from around the world have sent him about how they would like to memorialise Michael Jackson,” a spokeswoman for Sharpton said.

However, an unofficial memorial appeared to already be underway at Los Angeles’s famous Shrine Auditorium, where the cream of the African-American music, acting and sporting worlds was gathering for the BET Awards.

A galaxy of stars paid tribute to Jackson as they walked the red carpet, hailing his role as a star who had helped break racial barriers.

While Jackson’s incredible influence stretched across genres, races, and cultures, he had a very unique place in the world of black entertainment.

His influence is arguably most visible in urban music, seen in stars like Usher who mimic his dance moves, to Ne-Yo, whose music is marked by its Jackson-isms.

But that influence went beyond music: Jackson was black America’s biggest star, who broke racial barriers that allowed for so many other superstars to follow.

Foxx kicked off the show with a re-enactment of the choreography from Jackson’s iconic Beat It video in front of the star-studded crowd, on its feet from the start of the show.

Throughout the night, Foxx wore some of Jackson’s signature looks, like the wide-collar black leather outfit from Billie Jean.

“You know, my man is the greatest,” hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy Combs” told CNN. “He’s one of the reasons why Barack Obama’s president … He started the change in the world about how African-Americans are perceived.”

“We miss him and we love him and we just feel devastated,” said soul singer Alicia Keys, urging people to remember Jackson in a “respectful, positive way”.

Asked how Jackson had influenced her, Keys replied: “In every way. How could he not influence us to break the barrier and to think bigger, and to try new things and to break the rules?

“Tonight is a true memorial for him. It’s really about honouring him.” Thousands of Jackson devotees continued to gather outside the singer’s star on the walk of fame as well as the Jackson family’s home in Encino, where makeshift shrines of flowers and cards have grown rapidly since Friday.

Jackson’s death has sent fans scrambling to stock up on his music across the world. British chart officials said a compilation album of the star’s greatest hits had rocketed to the top of the charts on Sunday.

A spokesman for music retailer HMV said there had been an 80-fold increase in demand for Jackson’s music “almost overnight” after the singer’s death — the biggest one-day rise in sales seen for any artists, including Elvis Presley and John Lennon.

Scientists closer to beating cancer

The researchers say that the therapy uses a nanocell, dubbed the ‘Trojan horse’, which can destroy drug-resistant cancer cells.


The Sydney scientists say they’ve developed world-first technology to fight the biggest threat to the long-term survival of cancer patients: cancer cells that develop a resistance to chemotherapy drugs.

The technique involves sending in a so-called ‘Trojan horse’ nanocell – derived from bacteria – into the cancer cell to switch off the drug-resistant protein.

“Once it’s outside the front door of the cancer cell, it will then lock onto the cancer cell because it’s got the specific-targetting and will be swallowed by the cancer cell, and once inside, spill its contents and the cancer cell really commits suicide” Dr Jennifer Macdiarmid said.

A second wave of nanocells then carry in the chemotherapy drug to kill the cancer cells.

The researchers say it’s worked with mice, dogs and monkeys.

The first small human trials are due to start at three Melbourne Hospitals in the next few months.

The scientists say that if the human trials mirror the success of animal trials, it could change the one-size-fits all approach to chemotherapy treatment.

They say that the new treatment should be cheaper, because it uses smaller drug doses, as well as avoiding side effects, like hair loss.

“We are bombarding the body, with various drugs consequently we are knocking down a lot of normal cells as well as cancer cells, Dr Himanshu Brahmbatt said.

The Cancer Council says the technology provides hope for progress in treating patients.

“If you can overcome drug resistance and also deliver higher doses drug directly to the cell that pushes through that barrier that faces cancer therapy at the moment,” Dr Andrew Penman, from Cancer Council NSW said.

The researchers say it’s critical to constantly keep thinking of new ways to attack cancer cells, in order to win the battle against the disease.

Fewer see Turnbull capable of leadership: survey

The news doesn’t get any better for Malcolm Turnbull with a fourth opinion poll questioning his ability to lead the opposition, his honesty and his vision for the party.


The weekly Essential Research online survey found Mr Turnbull’s disapproval rating spiked to 57 per cent, up from 49 per cent in May, while his approval rating was down six points to 24 per cent.

At the same time, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s approval rating with 1,145 respondents is steady at 62 per cent, with just 27 per cent – down two points – disapproving of his performance.

Labor improved its two-party preferred position by one point to 58 per cent as the coalition dipped to 42 per cent.

Respondents saw Mr Turnbull as intelligent and hard working, but only 39 per cent regarded him as a capable leader, down from 60 per cent in September last year.

Nearly 70 per cent regard him as arrogant, two out of three feel he is out of touch with ordinary people while about half say he is too inflexible and narrow-minded.

One in six respondents viewed him as honest, compared to one in four previously.

Mr Turnbull was also marked down on whether he would be good in a crisis (32 per cent) and whether he was a visionary (26 per cent). Mr Rudd, seen as slightly more intelligent and hard working than his opposite number, was regarded as a capable leader by 72 per cent of respondents.

But more respondents than a year ago detect an arrogance about the prime minister.

The percentage of people who think Mr Rudd is arrogant has risen to 47 per cent from 25. The good news is that more people than not think he’s good in a crisis.

The OzCar affair, in which Mr Turnbull demanded the resignations of Mr Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan, has prompted nearly one in two people to view the opposition leader more negatively.

Mr Rudd did not escape unscathed from the affair with one in five seeing him more negatively against one in four who saw him in a more positive light.

Mr Swan’s negative ratings (27 per cent) from OzCar slightly exceeded the positive views (25 per cent).

But in both Mr Rudd and Mr Swan’s case recent political events had no impact on one in two respondents.

Frontbenchers rally around embattled Turnbull

Senior Liberals have dismissed speculation of a leadership challenge and rallied around Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull after his disastrous showing in a series of opinion polls.


Mr Turnbull’s personal approval ratings plummeted in the wake of last week’s ill-judged call for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s resignation over his relationship with a Brisbane car dealer in the OzCar affair.

While Labor increased its lead over the coalition, the polls released on Monday also found a majority of voters thought Mr Turnbull was arrogant and not altogether honest.

Mr Turnbull made no public comment on the polls, while a number of his frontbenchers spoke in his defence. Opposition leader in the Senate, Nick Minchin, acknowledged they’d had “a pretty tough week” but he said they would be competitive at the next election, due late next year.

He said the polls were a rollercoaster and urged his colleagues to keep their feet on the ground.

“I don’t want an opposition leader who’s too scared to get out of bed in the morning,” Senator Minchin told Sky News on Monday.

“Malcolm is a risk-taker and sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t and when they don’t you get a bad poll.”

Senior Liberal Tony Abbott also stood behind his leader, saying the opposition had a bad week but Mr Turnbull would be leader going into the next election. “Just as Malcolm didn’t flinch last week it’s important that the party doesn’t flinch this week,” Mr Abbott said.

But Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was unforgiving after last week’s bruising battle in parliament, saying people were tired of politics of “fear and smear”.

“The government’s getting on with the business of jobs and supporting business in the midst of the worst recession in 75 years and I think the Australian people are just tired of the politics of fear and smear,” Mr Rudd told reporters in Sydney.

And Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese ruled out any temptation on the part of the government for an early election, saying it intended to serve its full term.

The polls are bad, particularly The Australian’s Newspoll which shows Mr Turnbull’s approval rating has been slashed from 44 per cent in mid-June to 25 per cent while his disapproval rating rose from 37 per cent to 58 per cent. A similar story was told by the Fairfax/Nielsen poll in which the disapproval rating for Mr Turnbull had leapt 13 per cent to 60 per cent since mid-May.

News Limited’s Galaxy poll, published in metropolitan daily newspapers, showed that a total of 51 per cent of people thought Mr Turnbull was somewhat deceitful and dishonest.

Newspoll found 68 per cent of people thought Mr Turnbull arrogant while a poll by Essential Research found 69 per cent of people thought he was arrogant, a rise of 13 per cent.

Overall, Labor improved its two party preferred vote lead over the coalition by three points to 56 per cent in the Newspoll, while the coalition’s retreated by three points to 44 per cent.

The Nielsen poll also saw Labor increase its two party preferred lead by five points to 58 per cent while the coalition’s fell by three points to 42 per cent.

Opposition education spokesman and manager of opposition business in the house, Chris Pyne, dismissed any call for a leadership change.

“It would be bizarre, weak-kneed and pathetic if the Liberal Party were to, at the first sign of an ill wind, decide to change its leader for no other reasons other than getting some bad press over a week’s period,” Mr Pyne told reporters in Adelaide.

Opposition spokesman for workplace relations Michael Keenan said they had taken a hit but now needed to concentrate on holding the government to account. “As for changing leaders and everything, I think that’s just a ludicrous suggestion, it’s not seriously being considered,” Mr Keenan told AAP.

Victorian Liberal senator Mitch Fifield said there were no rumblings within the party for a change.

“The only conversations that I’ve had with colleagues are that Malcolm is the best person to lead us and that he should lead us to the next election,” Senator Fifield said.

Hewitt stages epic recovery

Lleyton Hewitt has admitted he played through the pain barrier to complete a famous Wimbledon fightback as the Australian came from two sets down to reach the quarter-finals with a 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Czech 23rd seed Radek Stepanek.


Hewitt suffered a thigh strain in the first set and was completely out-played for the first two sets, but the 2002 Wimbledon champion showed tremendous reserves of stamina and steel to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time in three years.

Just a month after overhauling a two-set deficit to defeat Ivo Karlovic at the French Open, Hewitt once again found a way to come back from the dead and will face either Andy Roddick or Tomas Berdych for a place in the semi-finals.

“I had a bit of a strain midway through the first set. It caused me a couple of issues and I wasn’t able to move as well as I would have liked,” Hewitt said.

“I got some treatment and managed to put it out of my mind but I still had a bit of pain. I had a bit more treatment during the rain delay. I just wanted to give myself a chance to compete.

“I hope it will be OK for the next match. Hopefully I didn’t do anymore damage to it.”

The unseeded 28-year-old is currently ranked below the top 50 after a lengthy spell out of action following hip surgery. But the All England Club’s grass courts have always been perfectly suited to his game.

“I’ve always been fit and hungry enough to keep fighting with that never-say-die attitude,” he said.

“It was tough because I was trying to get the third set under my belt rather than look at the big picture of winning in five sets.

“Even though I lost the first two sets I felt I was getting a quite a few looks at his serve. I felt if I could get a few returns I would get back in the match and that’s what happened.”

After his surprise win over fifth seed Juan Martin Del Petro in the second round, his confidence has gone through the roof and he hadn’t dropped a set en route to the last 16.

However, Stepanek got the crucial break to take the first set and then pushed home his advantage after Hewitt called for an injury timeout at 2-4 down in the second set to deal with the thigh problem.

Hewitt was able to resume after treatment but immediately dropped his serve again as Stepanek eased into a two-set lead.

But there has never been any doubting Hewitt’s tenacity and refused to surrender. Roared on by a large gathering of Australian fans on Court Two, he broke twice early in the third set before rain halted play.

The momentum was still firmly in Hewitt’s favour after the delay. He closed out the set and then broke again at the start of the fourth set.

Hewitt was unleashing winners from all over the court. In contrast, Stepanek, previously so dominant, was lost in a fog of unforced errors.

A blistering service return gave Hewitt another break that effectively wrapped up the set. The defiant “come on” that accompanied it underlined his determination to go the distance.

There were no signs of fatigue from Hewitt but Stepanek needed treatment on his back before the start of the final set.

By now Hewitt was reading Stepanek’s serve perfectly and a pair of sublime returns set up a break in the first game.

Stepanek’s morale was crushed and one more beautifully judged Hewitt return sealed a second break and, with it, one of his most memorable Wimbledon wins.

Jackson mother gets custody of children

Michael Jackson’s family secured temporary custody of the superstar’s children Monday as the first salvos in the legal issues arising from the pop icon’s tragic death began to take shape.


A day after a family lawyer said the Jackson clan would seek custody of the singer’s three children, a judge named the star’s mother Katherine as temporary guardian after approving a petition filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Jackson’s family was also reported to be filing a second petition seeking the right to be named temporary administrators of their son’s estate.

Court officials confirmed a petition relating to Jackson’s assets had been filed but would not go into details.

A lawyer for the family, Londell McMillan, said Sunday the family had not yet seen a copy of the star’s will.

McMillan was appointed amid clear signs the grief-stricken Jackson family was seeking to take control of their most famous member’s affairs.

Members of the musical clan were also expected to meet activist Reverend Al Sharpton at the family compound in Los Angeles on Monday to finalize plans for a fitting memorial for Jackson.

“I’m here to make sure Michael gets in death what he never got in life — he never got credit,” Sharpton said Sunday.

“He was not a freak, he’s a genius,” he said. “He was not somebody who was eccentric, he was innovative and that innovation smashed barriers and he should be given a lot more credit than he’s been given.”

A press conference with Sharpton and Jackson’s father Joe was scheduled for 11:30 am local time (1830 GMT).

Reports have said Jackson’s family is considering a series of simultaneous memorial services around the world for the singer, reflecting the huge global reach of an artist who sold more than 750 million records.

Family members attended an awards show Sunday dedicated to African-American entertainers which became a star-studded celebration of Jackson’s life, featuring an emotional tribute from his sister Janet.

“My entire family wanted to be here tonight, but it was just too painful so they elected me to speak with all of you,” Janet Jackson said.

“I’d just like to say that, to you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family and he will forever live in all of our hearts.”

Meanwhile family attorney McMillan said the family was “closely watching” the progress of the official investigation into Jackson’s death.

The family already has hired a private pathologist who has carried out a second autopsy on Jackson.

Details from Friday’s preliminary examination of Jackson’s body were published in Britain’s The Sun newspaper on Monday after the daily said it had seen a copy of the autopsy report.

According to the paper, pathologists found Jackson’s stomach empty apart from partially-dissolved pills. Jackson’s body was also reported to have weighed only 50.8 kilograms (112 pounds) at the time of his death.

However the Los Angeles County coroner’s office strongly rejected the report, describing parts of it as “totally false.”

“The report that is being published did not come from our office,” said Assistant Chief Ed Winter. “I don’t know where that information came from, or who that information came from.”

Meanwhile lawyers for personal physician Conrad Murray — who was with Jackson in the hours before his death — went on the offensive, with attorney Edward Chernoff insisting his client was blameless.

“There’s nothing in his history, nothing that Dr Murray knew, that would lead him to believe he would go into sudden cardiac arrest or respiratory failure,” Chernoff told CNN Monday.

“There was no red flag available to Dr Murray, which led him to believe he would have died the way he did. It’s still a mystery how he died.”

Speculation has been rife that excessive use of powerful prescription pain killers may have played a role in Jackson’s death, but Chernoff insisted that contrary to news reports, Murray “never prescribed nor administered” two particular drugs — Demerol or Oxycontin — to Jackson.

He also defended how Murray responded to the immediate crisis after Jackson lost consciousness last week, recounting step-by-step the failed effort by the doctor to revive the singer.

Opposition on the attack over boat arrivals

The federal opposition has used the arrival of another boatload of asylum seekers and the interception of five others in Malaysia to back their case against the abolition of detention debts.


Some 194 asylum seekers are being taken to the Christmas Island detention facility for health and security checks after the navy picked up their vessel off the island yesterday.

On Monday Malaysian authorities said weekend operations had intercepted five boats, carrying more than 50 mostly Afghans and Pakistani nationals, bound for Australia via Indonesia.

The opposition says more than 1,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Australian waters since the Rudd government softened Australia’s border protection polices in August last year.

Another 1,000 people had been intercepted by Indonesian authorities.

The opposition says that instead of talking tough on border protection, the government is pushing ahead with plans to abolish the long-established practice of charging asylum seekers for the cost of their detention.

“It was a principle that should have been retained,” opposition immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone said on Monday, adding that people smugglers were now responsible for 20 per cent of refugees coming to Australia.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans admitted the government was very concerned about the number of unauthorised arrivals.

“We’re absolutely determined to put an end to that trade and we’ve committed an awful lot of resources recently to try and combat these arrivals,” he said.

Senator Evans said the new detention facility on Christmas Island would be able to cope with the new arrivals.

“But we also have contingency plans in place if we need more capacity,” he said.

Malaysian authorities have been cracking down on the growing number of people using the country as a gateway for illegal sea voyages to Australia, mostly via Indonesia.

On Saturday, authorities in central Selangor state stopped four small boats, ferrying 15 Afghans, six Pakistanis and 11 Indonesians, on a river.

They were apparently planning to transfer to a bigger boat, which was caught with 21 Afghans already on board, Marzuki Ismail, the state’s marine police chief, said on Monday.

It appears the ship was bound for Indonesia’s Sumatra island, and the Pakistani and Afghan passengers had paid $A1,600 each to agents in Malaysia for the trip.

Authorities also arrested three Indonesian boatmen, but two others managed to escape.

In recent months, more than 100 Afghans, Pakistanis and Iraqis who had entered Malaysia legally have been caught embarking on rickety and overcrowded boats for Indonesia en route to Australia.

Several boats have sunk, killing more than a dozen people. Just two weeks ago, Malaysian police detained a boat that was also trying to smuggle 17 Iraqis to Australia via Indonesia.

Seven Indonesians were arrested in that raid. So far this year, Australian authorities have intercepted 15 boats carrying asylum seekers in its waters.

GM drops stake in Toyota plant

General Motors has announced it will drop its ownership stake in the US assembly plant it operates jointly with Japanese rival Toyota, as it restructures its operations under bankruptcy protection.


“After extensive analysis, GM and Toyota could not reach an agreement on a future product plan that made sense for all parties,” Troy Clarke, president of GM North America said in a statement.

“We have enjoyed a very positive and beneficial partnership with Toyota for the past 25 years, and we remain open to future opportunities of mutual interest.”

GM said its ownership stake in the plant would not be sold to the “New GM” that is expected to emerge from bankruptcy in the coming weeks but would instead remain behind as the ‘old GM’ is liquidated.

Production of GM vehicles at the New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated plant will cease in August.

Toyota said in a statement it was “sorry that General Motors has chosen to withdraw” and had hoped the venture would continue.

A spokesman for the Japanese automaker declined to disclose its plans for the plant.

“While we respect this decision by GM, the economic and business environment surrounding Toyota is also extremely severe, and so this decision by GM makes the situation even more difficult for Toyota,” the statement said.

“We will consider alternatives by taking into account various factors.”

The 5.3 million square foot facility in Fremont, California currently employs 5,440 people and produces approximately 250,000 cars and 170,000 trucks, according to the plant’s website.

Police brace as Iran election result upheld

Iranian police have been deployed en masse, bracing for a response to the decision to uphold official results of this month’s fiercely-disputed presidential election.


Tehran continued to hold four locally-recruited British embassy staff for ‘inciting’ protests, while Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi warned that the Group of Eight major powers would consider sanctions against the nation at a summit next week.

State television announced that, after a “thorough and comprehensive investigation,” Iran’s official electoral watchdog had upheld the re-election of hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a vote denounced by his main challenger, former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi, as a “shameful fraud”.

The head of the Guardians Council, Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, concluded that “the majority of the objections were not deemed infringements or fraud and were only minor irregularities that occur in each election,” the television reported.

Mousavi’s supporters had boycotted the partial recount of the vote carried out by the council in response to the complaints of the defeated candidates.

The opposition had demanded a complete rerun and has staged massive public demonstrations in a dispute that has shaken the foundations of the Islamic regime, with unprecedented criticism of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

According to the official results, Ahmadinejad won by a thumping majority of 63 percent against just 34 percent for Mousavi, a gap of 11 million votes.

Witnesses said thousands of policemen and Basij militiamen brandishing sticks were deployed in Tehran’s main squares to prevent any recurrence of the opposition protests over the conduct of the election that have broken out since the June 12 poll.

They said security forces were also randomly checking the boots of cars and vehicles, and checking the identification cards of drivers.

Western governments meanwhile expressed outrage at Iran’s continued detention of the four British embassy staffers.

Iran freed five of their colleagues earlier in the day, but British Prime Minister Gordon Brown slammed the arrests as “unacceptable” and demanded the immediate release of the other four.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Iran’s treatment of the British embassy staff as “deplorable” and said Washington was following the situation “with great concern.”

Speaking after talks with Brown in London, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso expressed his “full solidarity” with Britain over the arrests.

“Intimidation and harassment are unacceptable and they will be met with a strong collective European response,” he warned.

And the Italian prime minister who will chair the G8 summit from July 8 to 10, said: “Iran will be the first topic that we will deal with.

“According to the telephone conversations I have had with other leaders, I think that we will go in the direction you indicated, namely sanctions.”

Iran has repeatedly accused the West particularly Britain and the United States of “meddling” as its Islamic rulers struggle to contain the most serious upheaval since the revolution 30 years ago.

In the face of a massive crackdown on protesters, the opposition has scaled down its public demonstrations over the election results.

At least 17 people have been killed and many more wounded in clashes with security forces, according to state media.

Ahmadinejad on Monday called for a probe into the death of Neda Agah-Soltan, a woman whose apparent killing by the Islamic militia during a protest rally in Tehran generated an international outcry.

Neda became an icon for the opposition after an Internet video showing her final moments was seen around the world.

On Sunday, riot police in Tehran dispersed about 3,000 Mousavi supporters who had defied a ban on public gatherings, witnesses said, with one reporting a “minor confrontation.”

The information could not be independently verified as foreign media are banned from the streets under tough new restrictions imposed by the authorities.

The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights said on Sunday that more than 2,000 people are still in custody and hundreds more missing across Iran as a result of the government crackdown on the opposition.

London-based watchdog Amnesty International said it was gravely concerned that several opposition leaders may be facing torture, possibly to force them to make televised ‘confessions’ as a prelude to unfair trials in which they could face the death penalty.

It expressed particular concern for the well-being of three former officials in the government of Mohammad Khatami, whose 1997-2005 presidency saw a thaw in relations with the West — Mohsen Aminzadeh, Abdollah Ramazanadeh and Mostafa Tajzadeh. end of 2011. (AP

Bruno stops Sydney traffic

The gay Austrian fashionista stopped traffic and caused mob scenes in Sydney’s CBD, dressed as a knight in shining armour leading a white horse dressed in bondage gear.


“Vassup Sydney! Do you like my helmet?” he asked the hundreds of screaming fans who packed into Market Street.

Bruno, played by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, has spruiked his movie in seven countries over the past 18 days – “more than any Austrian since 1941”.

Sydney was the last stop on his world tour, and he was going out with a party.

“Ich really hope my movie realises its full global potential and doesn’t peter out after a promising start like swine flu,” said Bruno, posing with silver-painted models in red bikinis.

“Let’s hope, like herpes, this film continues to infect audiences for the next 1,000 years.”

Bruno added that of all the places he’d visited “Sydney is the best”, but there was no sign of the man who had won his heart on his trip Down Under: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

At a press conference on Monday morning, he raved about the man he called Ruddy.

“The reason I’m late is I just had breakfast in bed with Kevin Rudd. That guy is like, uber cute,” Bruno said.

“I thought Obama was like the hottest guy in the world until I met Kevin.

“I did to him last night what Malcolm Turnbull has been trying to do to him for the last couple of weeks.”

Bruno is the latest mockumentary by Baron Cohen, who brought the world Borat in 2006.

In the movie, the gay fashion journalist is on a mission to become the biggest Austrian celebrity since Hitler.

As he did with Borat in the past, Baron Cohen conducted the Sydney press conference entirely in character as Bruno.

Media were instructed not to ask questions about Baron Cohen’s fiancee Isla Fisher, or pop star Michael Jackson’s death, which has prompted a scene involving La Toya Jackson to be cut from the film.

Bruno was much more interested in talking about something closer to his heart: himself.

“I want to be the gay stereotype, I want to be the gay role model,” he said.

“My first words to my mother were: `I’m gay, get over it’.”

He was also keen to discuss his “fashion philosophy”.

“Fashion can solve most of the world’s problems,” Bruno said.

“Israel and Palestine, the whole of the middle earth, the fact is not one suicide bomber has even blown themselves up while wearing Marc Jacobs. That’s a fact.

“If you go the middle earth you see when those guys open their wardrobe all they’ve got is like a black smock and sandals. I’d blow myself up too.”

Bruno opens in Australia on July 8.