Asylum seekers safe in Indonesia

Indonesian authorities say a group of about 50 asylum seekers are safe, after being rescued from a boat which had run into trouble in waters south of Java as it made its way to Australia.

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An official with Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency Basarnas said late on Wednesday evening that all of those who had been aboard the boat, including at least five children, had been brought to shore.

“We’re still gathering information about where they are all from, but all are safe,” the official said.

There had been earlier reports that at least some of the asylum seekers had entered the water as a rescue operation was mounted off the coast near the district of Bayah.

It’s understood the boat issued a distress call at about 11.30am local time (3.30pm AEDT) after having engine and steering problems.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison late on Wednesday confirmed the incident, but added that no Australian authorities were involved in the rescue.

“We understand the incident occurred in close proximity to the Indonesian coast and Indonesian authorities are coordinating a search and rescue response,” Mr Morrison said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

“We understand there are reportedly 50 people on board the vessel and reports indicate some people have entered the water and that local fishermen are and have been assisting.”

The incident on Wednesday comes less than a week after another asylum-seeker boat was the subject of a search and rescue operation, and later a stand-off between Canberra and Jakarta about where the passengers should be offloaded.

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Inquiry recommends new child sex abuse crimes

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

Victims groups say they’re satisfied with the outcome of a Victorian parliamentary child sex abuse inquiry.

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The inquiry handed down its findings in an 800-page report which recommends making it a crime in Victoria to conceal sexual abuse by organisations.

Darren Mara has this report.

(Click on audio tab above to listen to this item)

The inquiry committee’s report recommends that people in positions of authority should be criminally responsible for placing children at risk of harm by other individuals.

Tabled in the Victorian parliament, the report comes after months of committee hearings, during which victims and Victoria Police alleged the Catholic Church had concealed child sexual abuse by clergy members.

The report states that it’s only in recent months that senior members of the Catholic Church have accepted responsibility for the church’s failure to pay due regard to the safety of children.

It’s also recommended that an independent statutory body be established to monitor and oversee the handling of sexual abuse allegations.

The chair of the Victorian inquiry, Georgie Crozier, says allegations of child sexual abuse across a range of organisations had been mishandled.

But she says the committee’s findings should be a watershed moment for abuse victims.

“I’ve been very encouraged by organisations throughout the course of the inquiry about what they have said, especially the Catholic Church. They have said to us that they will willingly work and cooperate with government in the recommendations of this report. So, we’re encouraged by that.”

The inquiry heard from more than 450 victims and its report names the Catholic Church and the Salvation Army as the main culprits.

Among the inquiry’s 15 major recommendations is a call for new laws making it a crime to conceal child abuse offences, to “groom” a child for sexual abuse, and to place a child at risk.

The report also calls for the removal of barriers to civil litigation through the creation of an independent scheme for victims of child abuse.

Georgie Crozier says taxpayers will not be asked to fund any compensation deals.

“So, in relation to compensation they are issues that the organisation needs to pay for. Government is not funding this. We would like organisations to come on board to be a part of this, to assist with the administration component of it and also to pay out any compensation and ongoing support or needs.”

The Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has welcomed the report’s findings and called on organisations such as the church to study them closely.

Dr Napthine says the state government will take up the key recommendations.

“We will commence immediately drafting legislation to implement a number of the key recommendations, including creating a new grooming offence, creating a new child endangerment offence, making it clear that it is a crime to conceal criminal child abuse offences and removing any inappropriate time impediments or limitations with respect to access to justice for victims.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart says the church acknowledges the failings highlighted in the parliamentary report.

However, Archbishop Hart says the Catholic Church won’t require priests to divulge child sexual abuse if someone confesses to them in private.

The Archbishop says he accepts that some abuse victims may take court action against the church.

“Particularly the recommendations about criminalisation about the responsibility to proper care and the responsibility to report, we support totally. The whole question of people’s ability to sue the church, we don’t step back from that.”

Victims groups have welcomed the report and its recommendations.

The advocacy group Broken Rites is calling the report a milestone that validates the innocence of sex abuse victims and the guilt of organisations like the Catholic Church.

Dr Cathy Kezelman from the Adults Surviving Child Abuse group says the inquiry’s report is substantial and hard-hitting.

Dr Kezelman has welcomed Premier Napthine’s commitment to fast action on the key recommendations.

And she says he hopes it can clear the path to compensation for abuse victims.

“There have been a lot of blocks to the system, structural blocks in terms of institutions that can’t be legally sued. There have been statute of limitation blocks and of course a lot of survivors as a result of their abuse don’t have the capacity to negotiate difficult systems so what we do need to see is an independent body that can help support survivors through this process so that people can find justice.”

The Victorian parliamentary inquiry was separate to the national Royal Commission that is currently underway, into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

 

 

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Botha happy as mentor as he assesses long-term plans with Boks

“Coming out of the Toulon set-up where they ask a lot of the player to here.

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.. I am just taking it week by week, I don’t want to make any long-term decisions,” Botha said at a press conference in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Botha was called up by coach Heyneke Meyer not only as a back-up option in the second row, but also because the coach believes he can help the development of the side’s locks, notably exciting youngsters Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth.

“I know there are some big players coming through and for now as long as I can rub off some of my experience on to the youngsters and they feed off it, that is the role I want to play.

“I know I don’t have another four or five years left in me, the body is getting older, so for me it is a privilege to play that role to Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth.”

Wing Bryan Habana, a World Cup winner with Botha in 2007 and now a clubmate at Toulon, has hailed the impact of a player whose physicality on the field made him a feared opponent.

“Having played with Bakkies for a long time now and also recently going over to Toulon, to see the presence that he still has within the squad is immense,” Habana said.

“He came back for that first week in Cardiff and youngsters like Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth looked up in awe at this legend of the game. Seeing guys like Siya Kolisi and Marcell Coetzee still calling him ‘Oom’ (uncle) was pretty special.

“His presence is something that each and every team values and to have a guy with not only the physical presence but the integrity that he has within the Bok squad is special.”

Botha is likely to be handed his first Springbok cap since the 2011 World Cup when South Africa play Scotland in Edinburgh on Sunday , with Meyer already stating he will shuffle his pack following the 24-15 victory over Wales last weekend.

(Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; editing by Alison Wildey)

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World Cup drama beckons despite Blatter’s reservations

The final 11 spots for next year’s finals in Brazil are about to be filled with matches taking place across the globe from Amman to Wellington and Mexico City to Reykjavik with 22 teams facing their final chance of glory.

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South American champions and former world champions Uruguay, semi-finalists in South Africa in 2010, will be out to stop Jordan reaching the finals for the first time.

Twice World Cup hosts Mexico are hoping for a return to form against Oceania zone winners New Zealand while Iceland, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, runners-up to Nigeria in this year’s African Nations Cup, are aiming for a first appearance on the big stage.

There will also be heartbreak, and joy, for one of the world’s top players.

The pick of the four European playoffs is the tie between Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden with little to choose between the teams before they meet in Lisbon on Friday and Stockholm next Tuesday.

HARD TO LOSE

Blatter’s comment that the playoffs ought to be scrapped because they are such a “hard way to lose” is not just based on the Swiss coming over all sentimental amid worries about the players’ feelings being hurt if their teams are eliminated.

Blatter rarely says anything officially without it having a political meaning for someone, and the comments follow on from other recent remarks that Europe has too many teams in the finals at the expense of Asian and African countries.

That provoked a response from UEFA president Michel Platini, who suggested a 40-team World Cup with an extra eight teams from Asia and Africa might be the answer.

However, while the two football chiefs try to score political points off each other, the real scoring action will unfold on the pitch in 17 highly-charged matches.

A World Cup in Brazil without neighbouring Uruguay is almost unthinkable and, with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani leading the line, they should be too strong for Jordan, who reached these playoffs after beating Uzbekistan in an Asian Zone playoff.

Uruguay famously beat Brazil 2-1 in Rio de Janeiro to become world champions in 1950, a defeat echoing down the generations in a country that would like nothing better than to finally get revenge – even if it means having waited 64 years to do so.

While Uruguay are seeking a place at their 12th World Cup to deprive Jordan of making their debut, Iceland, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso are also dreaming, with various levels of reality, of a first appearance at the finals.

SMALLEST NATION

Iceland, with a population of 320,000, would be the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup if they beat Croatia and, with experienced Swede Lars Lagerback as coach and a bright crop of talented youngsters, they could prevail.

Lagerback, who has coached Nigeria and Sweden in World Cup finals, will also no doubt be interested in how his native land are doing against Portugal, while the other European ties pit Ukraine against France and Greece against Romania.

France, 1998 world champions and runners-up in 2006, were helped through the playoffs four years ago by Thierry Henry’s infamous handball in the build-up to their winner over Ireland and might need all the help they can get to see off Ukraine.

The French, who finished second behind world champions Spain in their group this time, will not find it easy against Ukraine who had a chance of winning their section until the final stages before finishing second to England.

The two other possible debutants are from Africa – Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.

Burkina Faso go to Algeria with a 3-2 advantage from last month’s first leg but Ethiopia, who scored first against Nigeria before losing 2-1 at home, would appear to only have an outside chance against Stephen Keshi’s well-organised African champions.

Ghana seem headed for a third successive World Cup finals as they take a 6-1 first-leg lead against Egypt to Cairo, while Ivory Coast will seek to protect a 3-1 lead in Senegal.

Cameroon will hope home advantage counts after a 0-0 draw in their first leg in Tunisia so they are among the 32 nations in the draw for the finals in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil on December 6.

(Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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Stenson ready to lead from front in season finale

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson is the current leader, despite a barren year in Europe, with England’s Justin Rose and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell – winners of the U.

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S. Open in 2013 and 2010 respectively – close behind.

Ian Poulter and Wales’ Jamie Donaldson are ranked fourth and fifth in the Race to Dubai, formerly the European Order of Merit, and each could still win if they prevail in Dubai and Stenson finishes third or lower. There are myriad other permutations depending on how the leader board shakes up.

“I think it’s very important to be in the lead,” Stenson told reporters. “It’s always nice to have that cushion.”

The 37-year-old said his victory in the U.S. Tour Championship in September, where he became the first European winner after going into the final round in Atlanta four shots ahead, would stand him in good stead to lead from the front again in Dubai.

“I’ve done well in big moments throughout my career,” added Stenson, whose Dubai preparations have been hampered by a niggling wrist injury. “It’s all down to focusing on your game, playing the best you can and not caring too much about what’s going on around you.”

SEWN UP

Whoever ultimately triumphs, the Tour must be delighted the Race to Dubai will be decided at the season’s final event following Rory McIlroy’s romp last year.

The Northern Irishman had the Merit title sewn up nearly two weeks before teeing off in Dubai, but the 24-year-old has found this year tougher going, slipping to sixth in the world rankings after starting 2013 as number one.

McIlroy won last year’s Dubai event, his most recent title, and believes he can mount a decent defence, even if he is a lowly 46th on the money list.

“If I can drive the ball well and drive it long and straight, it gives me a huge advantage over most of the field,” said McIlroy. “It’s something that when I’m on my game I can really take advantage of and I was able to do that last year. This is a perfect golf course for that.”

Although fans should relish an exciting finale, the Tour’s inaugural season-ending series has drawn the ire of some players, with South Africans Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel skipping Dubai in protest at a requirement to play in two of the preceding three events – two in China and the Turkish Open – to make the entry list.

The four-tournament series, which offers combined prize money of around $30 million, is a similar format to U.S. PGA Tour’s end-of-season FedExCup.

BEST FIELDS

“The European Tour should be granted some time to get this thing right,” said McDowell. “The two from three was designed to try and get the best fields possible for the three weeks. It doesn’t suit everyone. The premise is right. It’s only a matter of time before it’s close to perfect.”

The world number 11 has never made the top-10 at Dubai’s Greg Norman-designed Earth course, but will not allow past disappointments to affect him come Thursday’s tee-off.

“The course is firmer and faster this year, which I think is going to suit me,” said McDowell.

“It’s just a case of getting my head around the very coarse grain on these greens and reading them better. It’s not like this golf course is too long for me. It will come down to my short game and putting.”

Rose, winner of the European Order of Merit in 2007, found the greens soft in practice.

“Long hitters have prevailed here, there’s no doubt,” said the world number five. “But if the fairways are running firmer, that brings the par fives into range for probably a greater percentage of the field, which will make a difference.”

Englishman Poulter took five weeks off from mid-September; a decision the 37-year-old believes should place him among the favourites to prevail in Dubai.

“I’ve still got plenty in the tank,” he said. “The fitness work that I did in that off period is working. I would expect myself to be there right to the end on Sunday.”

(Editing by Alison Wildey)

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