Monthly Archives: January 2019
A man on trial for murder says he cut another man’s throat because he feared his co-accused who had already bashed and repeatedly stabbed the victim would do the same to him.
Luke James Hutchings told the jury he believed the victim was already dead when he slashed his throat.
Hutchings, 30, was giving evidence on Thursday in the South Australian Supreme Court.
He and Michael Joseph Lindsay, 29, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Andrew Negre, 37, whose dumped body was found in an Adelaide reserve on April 8, 2011 about a week after he died.
The court has heard that after drinking at a hotel, Mr Negre was part of a group that went back to Lindsay’s house.
Hutchings told the jury it all went wrong after Mr Negre offered to pay Lindsay $200 for sex.
Hutchings said he went to another room after seeing Lindsay repeatedly punch Mr Negre and bang his head on the floor.
When he returned, he saw Lindsay grab a knife and repeatedly stab Mr Negre whose trousers were no longer on him.
“I just stood there like everyone else,” he said.
Hutchings said Lindsay then looked up at him while holding the knife.
“I took the knife out of his hand … I cut across Andrew Negre’s throat,” he said.
Asked why, Hutchings replied: “I thought maybe he might want to do it again and come after me”.
He said he was scared of Lindsay and was the only person in the house not related to him.
“I was frightened and thought I had better do something or he could retaliate.”
When Hutchings slit his throat, Mr Negre had not been moving and appeared to be dead.
Hutchings said he helped clean up the scene and move the body into a wheelie bin after Lindsay told him “to get rid of this mess”.
Under cross-examination, Hutchings denied underplaying his own role.
He also denied egging on Lindsay and holding the victim’s legs, so Lindsay could go through his pockets.
The trial is continuing.
WINSTON-SALEM, United States, Aug 22 AFP – France’s Gael Monfils won an error-filled match over Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-7 (8-10) 6-4 6-4 on Thursday to edge into the semi-finals of the ATP Winston-Salem Open.
The 15th seeded Monfils will Friday face off for a place in the final when he takes on Ukranian tenth seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, who beat Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan 7-6 (7-2) 6-3.
Monfils and seventh seeded Verdasco seemed to play their third match as if neither wanted to win in the closing stages.
The Frenchman, who is back this week after an ankle injury which forced him to miss the two Masters 1000 events this month, could not take advantage of many of the mistakes by Verdasco, whose unforced error count totalled well over 60 in the contest which lasted just under two and a quarter hours.
He hadn’t played since reaching the Umag claycourt final in July.
“I lost two weeks of training because I sprained my ankle,” Monfils said.
“This week means a lot to me. I was playing well before the ankle and had done well on clay in Europe. I was doing well when I got hurt.
“It’s good to be winning matches to finally get set for the US Open,” added Monfils, who has returned to the top 50 in the world after falling as low as 108th on February 2.
Monfils improved to 3-0 over Verdasco in the match-up between the pair of former top 10 players in the final tune-up event before the US Open, which begins Monday.
Verdasco failed to impress in his first hardcourt quarter-final of the season. Of his five previous 2013 quarter-finals, two came on grass and three on clay.
The Spaniard, who suffered a neck injury earlier in the year, produced 11 aces but had a dozen double-faults in a patchy performance in draining and humid conditions. At times it looked as both were struggling for energy.
Monfils won the second set and came from 3-1 down in the third to finally advance as his seventh ace set up a match point. He clinched it when Verdasco hit a forehand long over the baseline.
Dolgopolov dealt Lu his ninth career quarter-final defeat without a win as he advanced into the last four in one hour, 38 minutes. The Ukranian owns the series 3-0 including a win here last year.
In other quarter-finals, American sixth seed Sam Querrey faced Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis while Austria’s Jurgen Melzer, seeded ninth, took on Russian Dmitry Tursunov.
He felt sheepish about it later but halfback Aaron Smith says his roar came from the heart as the All Blacks scrum bulldozed the Wallabies’ Bledisloe Cup hopes in Wellington.
A series of powerful New Zealand scrums early in the second half on Saturday swung momentum away from Australia, whose 27-16 loss saw them fall short in an 11th successive Bledisloe Cup series.
The scrum battle was starkly different from the first Test a week earlier, won 47-29 by New Zealand when both front rows were coming to grips with new engagement laws.
Smith was penalised more than once in Sydney for not putting the ball in straight and the Wallabies more than held their own.
He appreciated South African referee Jaco Peyper giving both teams more leeway in Wellington and it told as the All Blacks snared two tight-heads and won two penalties after halftime.
Smith let out a throaty cry following one of the penalties, which resulted in struggling Wallabies tighthead Ben Alexander being replaced.
“I don’t like to be like that but you’ve got to let them know sometimes,” he said.
“Our forwards all talking and the Aussie scrum dead quiet – it’s a good feeling.
“There’s not a better feeling than seeing our pack walk all over theirs.”
Australian scrum deficiencies were exposed in their series-deciding third Test loss to the British and Irish Lions last month.
Coach Ewen McKenzie, a former prop, vented frustration with Peyper’s rulings, which differed from those of compatriot referee Craig Joubert in Sydney.
“To be honest, I don’t understand what’s going on.
“I used to be able to work it out but now I don’t know what’s a penalty and what isn’t.
“It’s a completely different beast now.”
A defiant Mick Potter claims he’s still the right man to coach the Wests Tigers with pressure mounting on the 49-year-old to keep his job.
Thursday was another eventful day in a difficult 18 months for the Tigers who issued a statement confirming three members of the backroom staff would leave at the end of season.
Chief executive Grant Mayer, who had appointed Potter as Catalans coach in the English Super League in 2006, gave few assurances about the mentor seeing out the second season of his two-year deal.
“There’s no doubt that he’s had some outstanding success as coach and he was obviously a tremendously gifted player,” Mayer said.
“That aside, the board and management of the club need to fully understand the position we find ourselves in and work with Mick to come to the best outcome for both himself and the club.
“There are many options we can consider. The most favourable of these options is to work with Mick to develop a coaching structure and provide the personnel the club needs to create a consistent winning attitude.”
Potter accepted the blame for the club’s poor form lay at his feet but he was hopeful of remaining having overseen the blooding of youngsters David Nofoaluma and Jack Buchanan and the development of Tim Simona, Curtis Sironen and James Tedesco.
“I think I’m doing a good job … I’m confident I’m doing a good job,” Potter said.
“The signs are there the club is moving forward. There are a lot of young guys who are stepping up right now.
“We are not getting the results right now but the future is looking good.”
“You are never really sure but I understand I’m under contract for another 12 months.
“I’m confident of keeping my job.
“I take responsibility for the football team. We are where we are a little bit because of circumstances beyond our control but we have had a tough year.
“We don’t shy away from that but I’m confident the club is moving forward.”
The club wouldn’t confirm who the members of staff given their marching orders are, but it’s thought to be assistant coaches Steve Georgallis and Royce Simmons and rehabilitation manager Andrew Leeds, who were all brought in by former coach Tim Sheens.
Defeat by the cellar-dwelling Eels, who go into the game on the back of 10 straight losses, would intensify the pressure on Potter.
Should the club opt to axe the 49-year-old with a year still remaining on his contract it would see them in a position of paying wages to three coaches.
Sheens is still on the payroll having been shown the door last season with two years left on his $450,000 a year contract.
Reports in New Zealand have also claimed Benji Marshall will be presented by the Auckland Blues Super Rugby franchise as their new 2014 signing on Saturday, 24 hours after playing at Parramatta Stadium.
However, Marshall’s manager Martin Tauber said nothing has yet been agreed with the Blues and the Tigers have still to sign off on his early release.
There was also some talk from across the Tasman that the Eels game could also be Marshall’s swansong.
“I’ve no idea where that has come from,” Tauber told AAP.
“He wants to play until the end of the year and is desperate to play his 200th game against South Sydney in a few weeks.
“The Tigers haven’t signed off on a release yet so until the end of the season he’s not going anywhere.”
The Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges says Australia is lagging behind in the number of its Indigenous people graduating from medicine.
The committee says, when the first Aboriginal person graduated from medicine 30 years ago, that was a hundred years behind New Zealand and Canada.
A new agreement signed as part of NAIDOC Week aims to close the gap in that area with a commitment to increase and support Indigenous doctors.
Peggy Giakoumelos reports.
Professor Kate Leslie is chairwoman of The Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges, or CPMC, and a senior anaesthetist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
She says the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and the CPMC will work together to try to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical specialists.
The Collaboration Agreement, signed this week, will contribute to closing the gap by looking at ways to train more Indigenous medical specialists.
The agreement is also a move to improve the ways medical specialists and Indigenous people work together.
Professor Leslie says the deal is an important step forward.
“Well, this is a landmark agreement between the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and the Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges, which represents the specialist medical colleges of Australia. And our aim is threefold. (First,) to close the current gap in health outcomes and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. We also want to increase the understanding of all Australian doctors about cultural issues in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. And, thirdly, and probably most importantly, we want to increase the number of Indigenous doctors who do specialist medical education after they finish medical school.”
Professor Leslie says about 175 Indigenous doctors work in Australia, mainly as general practitioners, or GPs.
She says, while there is a great need in all communities for GPs, there is only a small group of Indigenous doctors in other medical specialities.
That includes obstetrics, gynaecology, psychiatry and surgery.
Professor Leslie says there is a need for doctors in all specialties.
“Our position is that an increase in the Indigenous specialist medical workforce is important regardless of the types of specialties or the particular needs of any community. But if we were going to train Indigenous specialists specifically for Indigenous issues, these would include primary care and rural and remote medicine, psychiatry, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology — things that are needed in rural and remote locations where Indigenous people live.”
Dr Tammy Kimpton is president of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and a GP in New South Wales.
She says, out of around 80,000 doctors practising in Australia, fewer than 200 are Indigenous.
Dr Kimpton says increasing the number of graduates is the first step.
“We represent only a very tiny percentage of the health workforce. There are about 80,000 doctors, and around 175 of those are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, so nowhere near the 2.5 per cent that we make up generally. We would need to be around a thousand doctors to have population parity. But there’s also, then, of those 175 doctors, there are very few who have completed specialist training. And so this collaboration agreement is about working together with the colleges to ensure that there are clearly articulated pathways for our graduates to go into specialist training and then good support for them to ensure that they get their fellowship.”
Turkey has slaughtered about three thousand turkeys and chickens after reporting its first outbreak of the flu.
“The detection of avian influenza in Turkey is very worrying, given its proximity to EU borders,” said EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou.
The EU is also waiting for test results from a suspected outbreak in Romania’s Danube Delta region.
Switzerland, Bosnia and Croatia have also imposed bans on poultry imports from Turkey and Romania as they are not part of the EU.
Hungary and Poland have only implemented a ban on Romanian birds.
Turkey’s health ministry has downplayed the threat to human health, stressing that the incidence of bird flu in poultry is not worrying.
Mr Kyprianou said the ban was only a temporary decision as the EU waits for final confirmation on Wednesday.
Figures show the ban will have little impact as no live poultry or fresh meat was imported from Turkey in 2004.
The bird flu virus is thought to spread among poultry, but a strain known as H5N1 has killed at least 60 people in southeast Asia.
The ban on Turkey and Romania came amid a new warning against complacency.
International health officials said all countries must make transparent, cooperative efforts to prepare for a bird flu pandemic.
Leading a delegation across southeast Asia, US Health Secretary, Mike Leavitt, said countries could benefit from being open about a bird flu outbreak.
The World Health Organisation’s Director-General, Jong Wook Lee said the UN body is certain there will be a bird flu pandemic.
“Right now, the only one condition missing is the virus that is rapidly transmitted from human to human,” Mr Lee said.
He said the world had a duty to get ready as the H5N1 virus is very similar to the Spanish flu that killed tens of millions in 1918.
“We cannot imagine what will be the impact when the so-called mild pandemic hits us, so clearly we have to be ready,” he said.
Applying game theory – interactive decision scenarios – they focused on why some people and countries manage to cooperate, while others suffer from conflict.
Their work goes beyond the frontiers of traditional economics into psychology, sociology and strategic studies and has helped analyse trade disputes, organised crime, political decisions and wage negotiations, as well as outright shooting wars.
In economics and business, it has clarified why initially competing firms will eventually collude to fix prices or why farmers will share pastures or irrigation systems.
But it also sheds light on everyday phenomena like the audience’s choice of seats at a concert or societal issues like racial and sexual discrimination.
After Professors Schelling and Aumann’s theory, seemingly irrational behaviour could suddenly be explained.
“Their work has transformed the social sciences far beyond the boundaries of economics,” said the jury, praising Professor Schelling’s ability to introduce original ideas with a minimum of mathematical tools.
Professor Schelling, now 84 and professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, produced his main work during the Cold War which pitted the United States against the Soviet Union, using game theory to explain the era’s most vital issues, global security and the arms race.
Having worked on the Marshall Plan – the US postwar aid program for battle-ruined Europe – and at the White House in the 1950s, Professor Schelling was well placed to examine the rationale behind the superpowers’ nuclear standoff.
The Cold War, when the world’s survival could depend on accurately predicting the opponent’s next move, was a fertile ground for game theorists.
Professor Schelling showed that the ability to retaliate can be more useful than the ability to resist an attack, and that it may be good to keep your enemy in the dark over how your retaliation will look.
Building on Professor Schelling’s original ideas, Professor Aumann then applied the tools of mathematical analysis to highlight the alternatives available to one’s own country and the opponent in times of conflict.
Professor Aumann, who is 75 and worked at the Centre for Rationality at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, went on to show that the choice for cooperation rather than war was more easily achieved in long-term relationships than in single encounters.
He became the first to create analysis of “infinitely repeated games”, which helped explain why some people or communities cooperate better than others over time, even though they are initially suspicious of one another.
Professor Aumann, born in Frankfurt in Germany in 1930, fled with his family to New York in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution and later settled in Israel.
Professor Schelling said that he was caught off guard by the prize and told Sweden’s TT news agency he didn’t know yet what to do with his half of the prize sum of A$1.7 million, but that it would go to “something useful.”
Professor Aumann said he was delighted with the prize.
“On the one hand, this is a prize for Israeli science and for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but it’s also a prize for the world community of game theorists,” he told a press conference at the university where he has been teaching for the past half century.
The Nobel Economics Prize, the fifth of the six coveted prizes to be awarded this year, is the only one not originally included in the 1895 last will and testament of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel.
It was created by the Swedish Central Bank in commemoration of its tricentenary in 1968, and was first awarded in 1969.
The meeting raised speculation that the political stalemate, caused by inconclusive elections three weeks ago, were nearing a solution.
But the party leaders have remained tight lipped about their talks on Thursday and Sunday.
A decision is expected on Monday after the two contenders hold a follow up meeting at 11:00am local time.
Party officials from Mr Shroeder’s Social Democrats suggest a result would only be available then.
“We will not know until midday tomorrow whether we can have
negotiations (on the coalition government),” the Social Democrats’
party chief Franz Muentefering said on Sunday.
A deal on the chancellery would pave the way for a so-called grand coalition stretching across the traditional right-left party lines, last seen in Germany in the 1960s.
A report in Focus magazine at the weekend said the most likely outcome was a government headed by Ms Merkel.
It claimed cabinet posts would be divided equally between the Social Democrats and Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrat alliance.
Mr Schroeder has been under intense pressure to step down after the election left his party just four seats behind the conservatives.
He dismissed suggestions that his trip to Saint Petersburg on Friday to celebrate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s birthday was “a farewell visit”.
The German Chancellor has resisted calls for him to step down, seeking to show that he is not preparing to quit.
Many observers have seen his refusal to go as an audacious attempt to cling to power.
But others see him taking a gamble to ensure the best possible deal for the Social Democrats in a coalition government.
A leading member of Mr Schroeder’s outgoing centre-left administration, Interior Minister Otto Schily, renewed calls for a solution that would see him remain chancellor for two years.
Under that outcome, Ms Merkel would take over for the following two years.
“It would strengthen the necessary trust of both parties in each other and would stabilize a grand coalition,” Mr Schily told Sunday’s edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.
He suggested Merkel should be foreign minister to begin with, building the international contacts as she prepares for the transition.
But officials from Ms Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) repeated their call for Mr Schroeder’s resignation.
Wolfgang Bosbach, the CDU’s parliamentary party chief, said he was concerned she would concede too much in her bid to secure the top job.
“We must be careful that we don’t end up with a Social Democrat government with Angela Merkel as chancellor,” he said.
Party leaders have warned that it could be several weeks before a government is formed.
The mudslide was triggered four days ago as Tropical Storm Stan swept across Central America leaving a trail of death and destruction.
“This should be declared a mass grave. It is a cemetery for 1,400 persons, we calculate,” said Diego Mendoza, mayor of nearby Santiago Atitlan.
In the early hours of Wednesday an avalanche of rock and mud tumbled from the slopes of San Lucas volcano onto the towns of Panajab and Tzanchaj, 180 kilometers west of Guatemala City.
Few bodies found
Only 71 bodies have been recovered so far, mostly children.
The corpses were placed in makeshift wooden coffins and quickly interred.
Ten more bodies were recovered in Guatemala Sunday, bringing the total toll from Stan in the hardest-hit country in the region to 519.
“The size of the disaster is enormous. The losses are colossal,” Vice-President Eduardo Stein said during an interview with Sonora radio about widespread flooding and landslides triggered by Stan since October 1.
Vice-President Stein said 130,000 persons were directly affected by Stan.
However, he said that 3.5 million people have been affected in areas where water and electricity have been cut.
The death toll in all of Central America and Mexico from Stan’s passing has risen to at least 629.
In El Salvador 71 people died, 28 died in Mexico and 11 in Nicaragua, authorities in those countries said.
Guatemalan President Oscar Berger has made an impassioned plea for international assistance, estimating agricultural losses at A$150 million dollars.
But he did not hold out much hope for his compatriots.
“I believe we are in for more unpleasant surprises,” President Berger said.
“Many people remain missing. There have been many mudslides, and many communities remain cut off.”
Infrastructure and housing minister Eduardo Castillo said more than half of Guatemala’s 10,000 kilometers of rural roads had been damaged.
The United States, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Canada and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration have pledged help.
Mexico, meanwhile, launched a vaccination drive amid an outbreak of dengue fever in the storm-hit area.
A quarantine was slapped on the town of Huejutla, in central Hidalgo state, where 180 fell ill.
Cuba sent 100 doctors to administer vaccines in El Salvador, earning the thanks of President Antonio Saco.
Deadly hurricane season
The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, has been one of the deadliest and most active on record. Stan was the 10th Atlantic hurricane this year.
Hurricane Katrina, which slammed the US Gulf of Mexico coast August 29, killed more than 1,200 people, becoming the deadliest storm to hit the United States since 1928.
“The virus has been identified in three ducks in the village of Ceanurlia de Jos,” Agriculture Minister Gheorghe Flutur said.
“We have already imposed quarantine measures in the village and the health authorities in the Danube delta have been put on alert,” he said.
Authorities have ordered that all farm birds in the region must be kept indoors.
Test results showing the dead ducks to be H5N1 positive have been sent to London for further investigation.
It is believed they contracted the virus from migrating birds from Russia.
Authorities have sealed off the village and banned hunting and fishing in eight counties in the region.
Romania has also halted chicken and poultry imports from 15 countries, mostly Asia.
While there have been no reports of sickness in the village, Health Minister Eugen Nicolaescu said the government will step up its anti-flu vaccination campaign for residents of the Danube delta, a haunt of migrating birds.
Romanian authorities took steps last month to start vaccinating all birds in the delta in a bid to prevent a spread of bird flu.
A strain of bird flu known as H5N1 has killed 63 people in Southeast Asia since 2003, most of them in Vietnam.
The World Health Organisation fears the virus might mutate into a human strain, potentially causing a global health pandemic.
Top health officials from 80 countries are taking part in a summit in Washington on how to best respond to such a health crisis.
US researchers have warned the US is woefully underprepared for such an outbreak.
“The highest possible threat (we face) is avian flu,” said epidemiologist Jeffrey Duchin, speaking to an Infectious Diseases Society meeting in San Francisco.
“You know the storm is brewing, it’s about to hit us, we need to prepare, we have time, there’s no excuse,” he said.
This comes as US President George W Bush met with the heads of major pharmaceutical companies to urge them to speed up work towards a vaccine.
Officials participating in the bird flu session say the US hopes it will produce 10 to 15 key priorities for countries to implement, including transparency of quick and accurate reporting of outbreaks, donor support for affected countries and a pledge to work with the WHO.