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Nauru signs up to Rudd's stop boats plan

Written By prayud samsah on Sabtu, 03 Agustus 2013 | 20.48

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced a new refugee plan with the Pacific Island nation of Nauru. Source: AAP

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has announced a new agreement with the Pacific Island nation of Nauru, which like Australia's deal with Papua New Guinea, will deny asylum seekers the chance to resettle in Australia.

But the Opposition says it's just a ploy to win votes.

Mr Rudd and the president of the Republic of Nauru, Baron Waqa, signed the memorandum of understanding at a press conference in Brisbane on Saturday.

The deal supercedes the one struck between the nations last year and allows for asylum seekers to not only be processed in the Pacific Island nation, but also to be settled there.

"No matter where people smugglers try to land asylum seekers by boat in Australia, they will not be settled in Australia," Mr Rudd told reporters.

"This is our core principal."

The Nauru agreement is similar to the deal struck with Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Peter O'Neill, two weeks ago and is the latest salvo in Mr Rudd's tough new approach to asylum seekers.

Immigration Minister Tony Burke attended Saturday's announcement and agreed the number of asylum seekers sent to Nauru would be small.

They would comprise families or unaccompanied minors and a new site to house them had been chosen, he said.

The most urgent priority though was expanding the capacity of the island nation's prison, he said.

Australia will provide $29.9 million in aid to Nauru in 2013-2014 under the plan.

A further $17 million will be spent on rebuilding the prison, which was damaged in a recent riot on the island.

Funds from a contingency reserve will also be allocated according to the number of refugees Nauru accepts.

Mr Burke flagged the possibility of reaching similar deals concerning refugees with other nations in the region.

"I'm prepared to say there are other countries who have raised this with us as well," he said.

"There are a number of countries within the region who have signed the convention and who have a genuine commitment to wanting to take a regional approach, and if we're able to reach agreements with them then we will."

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the plan was "elaborate staging" by Labor with no real substance.

"Nauru will play no real role in offshore processing arrangements for the foreseeable future under Labor," he said in a statement on Saturday.

"This announcement is just a patch-up for the devastation of the riots that cost taxpayers up to $60 million and was allowed to occur on Labor's watch."

The Australian Greens said the government had hit a new low on refugee policy.

"This is just more cruelty at the cost of Australia's generous heart and it is trashing our global reputation," Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said in a statement on Saturday.

"It seems there is no limit to the cruelty that either Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott are prepared to inflict on refugees in their race to bottom as they race to the polls."

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Mugabe claims victory in 'sham' poll

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe looks to extend his 33-year rule after a shock landslide vote. Source: AAP

ZIMBABWE is set to release the official results of disputed elections, in which President Robert Mugabe's party romped to victory, as the opposition holds emergency talks over the "sham" polls.

Full results were expected later on Saturday but Mugabe's ZANU-PF party said it had already won the 140 seats in parliament required to press ahead with controversial amendments to the constitution.

"We have already gone beyond two-thirds. It's a super majority," a top party official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

With 186 of 210 constituencies officially counted after Wednesday's disputed poll, Mugabe's party already had a commanding lead, winning 137 seats in parliament.

Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said: "Our opponents don't know what hit them", adding that 89-year-old Mugabe could win "70 to 75 per cent" in the presidential vote.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who described the vote as a "sham", went into emergency talks on Saturday to decide their next action.

The MDC has vowed not to accept the election results, sparking fears of a repeat of bloody violence that marked the aftermath of the 2008 election.

"Emotions are high, tensions are high across the country," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

While on the country's streets things have remained calm, UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged both political rivals to send "clear messages of calm" to their supporters.

Ban hopes that the broadly "calm and peaceful atmosphere" of election day "will prevail during the vote counting and throughout the completion of the electoral process," said his spokesman Martin Nesirky.

A senior MDC official, speaking on condition of anonymity, painted a picture of the dilemma the party faces amid its claims the election was stolen by ZANU-PF.

"We can't tell people to be calm, we can't tell people to demonstrate unless you know the outcome," said the source.

Another senior party official dismissed speculation that the MDC is being offered a few posts in government.

The influential 15-member southern African bloc SADC also implored "all Zimbabweans to exercise restraint, patience and calm".

All eyes are now on the MDC which was expected to hold a press conference on Saturday afternoon following its meeting.

Observers appeared divided over the conduct of the poll.

The African Union's top poll observer, Olusegun Obasanjo, said shortly after polling stations closed that the election had been "peaceful, orderly, free and fair".

The SADC stopped short of declaring it "fair" but said it was "free and peaceful".

"We have said this election is free, indeed very free," said top SADC election observer Bernard Membe. "We did not say it was fair ... we didn't want to jump to a conclusion at this point in time."

Membe on Friday met Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for three decades, to "wish him good luck as he is preparing himself for the inauguration," he told later told journalists.

He said he would try to convince Tsvangirai to concede defeat.

SADC negotiated the creation of a power-sharing government in the wake of 2008's bloody poll.

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UN warns of plight of children in Syria

The United Nations has sounded the alarm about the plight of women and children in Syria. Source: AAP

THE UN has sounded the alarm about the plight of women and children in Syria's Homs, urging all parties in the conflict to enable access to some 400,000 trapped civilians.

"The situation of women and children in the Syrian city of Homs is rapidly deteriorating," UNICEF said in a statement, adding that "new checkpoints are preventing more supplies from entering" the neighbourhood of Al-Waer.

"Cannot all those involved agree that the innocent women and children in Homs, and across Syria, should be spared all possible suffering?" UNICEF's Executive Director Anthony Lake asked.

Around 400,000 civilians, mostly women and children, who were forced to flee other areas of Homs have sought refuge in Al-Waer, and are now "living in partially constructed buildings, schools and other public buildings", Lake said.

But the situation there "has worsened, with reports of intense daily clashes, and rocket and mortar strikes causing many casualties", he added.

UNICEF says it and other organisations have been distributing basic supplies and ensuring access to water for civilians fleeing the fighting.

"Water and electricity is still available for now but vegetables, milk and other essentials are in increasingly short supply. Our own emergency supplies will run out within days," said the agency.

Lake called on "all parties to facilitate immediate safe access to these families so we can provide life-saving assistance, and to allow those families currently trapped in Al-Waer who wish to leave to do so in safety and in dignity".

Homs has suffered some of the worst violence in Syria's 28-month conflict.

This week, government forces overran Khaldiyeh district, one of the rebels' last bastions in Syria's third city.

The army is now pressing its campaign to uproot rebels from other areas in Homs, including the central Old City district.

The UN says more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria's war, most of them civilians.

Millions more have been forced to flee their homes, about 75 per cent of them women and children.

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Six children die in Afghan attack

THREE suicide attackers killed at least nine civilians, most of them children, in a botched attack on the Indian consulate in an eastern Afghan city near the border with Pakistan, security officials say.

Authorities also reported that 22 police officers and over 70 Taliban fighters died in two days of fighting earlier in the week in the same province touched off by a feud between militants and villagers. Officials regularly announce high militant death tolls that are impossible to independently confirm.

Militants, mostly smaller groups based in Pakistan, have targeted Indian diplomatic interests multiple times in recent years.

In the latest attack, police fired on the militants as they approached a checkpoint outside the consulate in Jalalabad, prompting one of them to set off their explosives-laden car, said Masum Khan Hashimi, the deputy police chief of Nangarhar province.

The blast killed nine bystanders, and wounded another 24 people including a policeman. Six of the dead and three of the wounded were children, said Jalalabad hospital director Dr Humayun Zahir. He did not give their specific ages.

All three attackers also died, although it was not clear how many were killed by police fire and how many by the explosion.

In New Delhi, India's External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said that all Indian officials in the consulate were safe.

Afghanistan's main insurgent group, the Taliban, denied in a text message that it had carried out the attack.

Militant groups known for attacking Indian interests include Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), blamed for the 2008 attack on the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people. LeT has been active in Afghanistan in recent years, often teaming up with insurgent groups operating in the eastern part of the country near the frontier with Pakistan. Last year the US-led military coalition arrested a senior LeT leader in eastern Afghanistan.

India has been frustrated by Pakistan's failure to crack down on Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has strong historical links with Pakistani intelligence. Pakistan has always viewed India as a potential rival in Afghanistan, which it considers its strategic backyard.

"Such coward attacks will not deter India from providing reconstruction and developmental assistance to our true friend, Afghanistan," the Indian Embassy Tweeted in reaction to the consulate bombing.

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Cyprus ex-minister gets 5 years for blast

Written By prayud samsah on Jumat, 02 Agustus 2013 | 20.48

Cyprus's ex-defence minister was sentenced to jail in connection to a blast that killed 13 people. Source: AAP

CYPRUS'S ex-defence minister, Costas Papacostas, has been sentenced to five years in jail in connection with a munitions dump blast at a naval base that killed 13 people.

The ailing 73-year-old was not in court for the sentencing on Friday, as he was taken ill after his conviction last month and has been in hospital since then.

He had been found guilty of manslaughter and the lesser charge of causing death through a reckless and dangerous act.

The July 2011 blast took out the island's biggest power plant 150 metres away and caused 3 billion euros ($A4.47 billion) in damage that forced roaming power cuts amid 40C temperatures.

Fire chief Andreas Nicolaou, his suspended deputy Charalambos Charalambous and disaster response unit chief Andreas Loizides were also convicted of causing death through a reckless and dangerous act.

They were sentenced to two years on Thursday.

Former Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou and ex-deputy National Guard Chief Savvas Argyrou were found not guilty in the case.

Prosecutors have appealed the decision, which sparked angry protests from relatives of the victims.

It is said to be the first time in the island's legal history that so many senior officials have faced such serious charges.

The incident sparked weeks of angry street protests calling for then president Demetris Christofias to step down.

A public inquiry laid most of the blame for the blast on Christofias, whose immunity shielded him from prosecution and who refused to resign.

The munitions were seized in 2009 when Cyprus intercepted a Cypriot-flagged freighter bound from Iran for Syria.

A UN sanctions committee said the cargo contravened a ban on Iranian arms shipments.

Stored at the base for almost three years under searing heat in summer, they exploded despite repeated warnings that they were unsafe and the government's rejection of offers from abroad to neutralise them.

Some 98 burning containers with 400 tonnes of gunpowder triggered an estimated 1.5 megaton blast that also damaged 730 homes and businesses.

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12 jihadists killed in north Syria: NGO

At least 40 people have died in an ammunitions depot blast in a government-held area of Syria. Source: AAP

FRESH clashes between Kurdish fighters and jihadists have erupted in the majority Kurdish province of Hasakah in northern Syria, a monitoring group says.

At least 12 members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) were killed early on Friday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which added that 22 Kurdish fighters have been killed over the past few days.

Reports of the latest Kurdish-jihadist violence emerged a day after at least 31 civilians, among them five women and four children, were killed in army shelling and an assault in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Meanwhile, Kurdish activists said there was heavy fighting in villages between Cel Agha and Gerke Lage as radical Islamists shelled Ras al-Ain.

Kurds expelled jihadist groups from Ras al-Ain in mid-July.

The fate of some 200 Kurds taken hostage by jihadists on Wednesday remains unknown, the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Elsewhere on Friday, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad again shelled the rebel-held area of Jouret al-Shiyah in the central city of Homs, said the Observatory.

The bombardment comes five days after the key rebel neighbourhood of Khaldiyeh fell out of rebel control and into army hands.

Assad's regime is pressing an offensive aimed at taking back remaining rebel areas in Homs, Syria's third city and dubbed by activists as "the capital of the revolution".

Meanwhile, the air force staged several air strikes on rebel areas across Syria, including two on Al-Harra in the southern province of Daraa, where rebels have made significant progress in recent weeks, said the Observatory.

Friday's violence comes a day after at least 185 people were killed across Syria, the Britain-based watchdog said.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria's raging war, the United Nations says.

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AU says Zimbabwe polls 'credible'

President Robert Mugabe's rivals slammed his election victory claims, branding the vote a "sham". Source: AAP

ZIMBABWE President Robert Mugabe's party claims he is on course for a landslide win in an election branded a sham by his rivals, with the southern African regional bloc SADC saying it is too early to call the poll fair.

Partial results of Wednesday's poll have given the 89-year-old a commanding lead, with his ZANU-PF party garnering 87 seats out of 120 declared.

"Our opponents don't know what hit them," party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said on Friday. "It's the prediction that the president might likely get 70 to 75 per cent."

ZANU-PF also predicted it would win a two-thirds majority in parliament, enough to amend the new constitution that introduced term limits and curbed presidential powers.

Mugabe's bitter rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, has rejected the vote as a "huge farce" and "null and void".

"It's a sham election that does not reflect the will of the people," he said, pointing to a litany of alleged irregularities with the voters' roll.

The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network reported up to one million voters were prevented from voting in Tsvangirai strongholds.

But Mugabe won an endorsement from the African Union on Friday, with former Nigerian president and military leader Olusegun Obasanjo saying the vote was basically free and fair.

"There are incidences that could have been avoided, but all in all we do not believe that these incidents will amount to the results not reflecting the will of the people," he said.

However, the SADC said it was too early to declare the election fair, but noted the vote was free and passed off without violence.

"We have said this election is free, indeed very free," said SADC's top election observer Bernard Membe on Friday.

"We did not say it was fair ... we didn't want to jump to a conclusion at this point in time," amid deeply divergent accounts of voting.

With the spectre of fresh unrest hanging over the crisis-wracked nation, the SADC called on all parties to accept the result.

"In democracy we not only vote, not only campaign, but accept the hard facts, particularly the outcome," said Membe, who is also Tanzania's foreign minister.

Foreign diplomats have expressed deep misgivings about a poll they have described privately as non-violent, but fundamentally flawed.

Jeffrey Smith, from the Washington-based Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, said it would be wrong to disregard the final results, but "we must also not be blind to potential irregularities both leading up to the vote and on the day".

So far Tsvangirai has limited his comments to condemnation of the poll, but already there are calls for mass protests, and warnings that may prompt a bloodbath.

The top brass from his Movement for Democratic Change will meet on Saturday to decide their response.

Ahead of the meeting, top MDC official Roy Bennett called for a campaign of "passive resistance".

"I'm talking about people completely shutting the country down - don't pay any bills, don't attend work, just bring the country to a standstill.

"There needs to be resistance against this theft and the people of Zimbabwe need to speak out strongly."

The disputed outcome risks plunging Zimbabwe - which battled a decade-long downturn marked by galloping inflation and mass migration - back into deep crisis.

"If certain people feel their choice was not accepted, they may resort to violence," said Sean O'Leary a spokesman for a 3000-strong group of poll monitors from the Catholic church.

Investors also expressed fears about the impact of a Mugabe victory, which could roll back the power-sharing government's efforts to stabilising the economy after crippling hyperinflation and joblessness.

"It's back to extreme volatility," Iraj Abedian, the CEO of Pan African Investments, told AFP from Johannesburg. "We can expect fairly radical positions that will have populist support, but which will have huge implications."

Abedian predicted banks and financial firms could become the targets of a new Mugabe government seeking to extend its program of indigenisation, after agriculture and mining.

"The land grabs caused chaos in the agricultural sector and it took 10 years for it to settle down.

"The financial sector would have a similar impact. It would cause chaos, but ZANU-PF and Mugabe seem to like that."

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William registers royal baby's birth

THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have formally registered the birth of their son Prince George - giving their occupations as Prince and Princess of the United Kingdom.

William signed the birth register entry for the third-in-line to the throne at Kensington Palace on Friday morning.

George was born on Monday last week at St Mary's Hospital in London. His name was announced two days later.

While most new parents have to travel to a register office to formally register the birth of their child, Westminster City Council registrar Alison Cathcart travelled to Kensington Palace for William to carry out the task.

A brief statement from the palace said: "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have formally registered the birth of Prince George.

The register entry from which the birth certificate is produced was filled in by the registrar and signed by William. It gives the date and place of Prince George's birth and his full name as His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.

William's full name, His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis Duke of Cambridge, is also given, along with his place of birth in Paddington, Westminster. His occupation is listed as Prince of the United Kingdom.

His wife's full name is given as Catherine Elizabeth Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, with her occupation described as Princess of the United Kingdom.

Her place of birth is listed as Reading, and her maiden name of Middleton is also included on the document.

The couple's "usual address" is given as Kensington Palace, London.

Ms Cathcart, who has been Westminster City Council's superintendent registrar for 22 years, has presided over several celebrity marriages including Sylvester Stallone, Joan Collins, Barbara Windsor and comedian David Walliams.

She said: "It was of course a great pleasure to work with Kensington Palace in arranging the signing of the birth certificate for Prince George.

"This cements an association with Westminster City Council and royal births in the borough that goes back decades.

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Polish couple get 30 years for killing son

A POLISH mother and her partner who systematically starved her four-year-old son before savagely beating him to death have been jailed for a minimum of 30 years by a British judge.

Magdelena Luczak and Mariusz Krezolek subjected Daniel Pelka to a six-month ordeal in which he was held underwater, locked in a room and force-fed salt before suffering fatal head injuries in a vicious assault.

The case has raised questions about why Daniel's stepfather Krezolek was not deported to Poland despite having been jailed three times in Britain, and about the failure of Daniel's school and social services to save him.

The case was "deeply shocking and disturbing" and involved "unimaginable acts of cruelty and brutality", said Judge Laura Cox as she sentenced the pair on Friday at Birmingham Crown Court in central England.

Cox gave Luczak and Krezolek each life sentences and said the couple, who were found guilty by a jury on Wednesday, must serve a minium of 30 years in prison before they can be considered for release.

The pair both arrived in Britain from Poland in 2006.

A juror wiped away tears as the sentences were read out. Luczak and Krezolek, who are both originally from Poland stared straight ahead and listened to their interpreters.

Daniel was described as a healthy little boy when he started school in the industrial city of Coventry in September 2011. Pictures showed a smiling blond-haired boy in a red uniform.

But the time he died in March 2012 experts "likened his appearance to those who failed to survive concentration camps, and the comparison was not made lightly," the judge said.

His mother, 27, and her partner, 34, who were both drug and alcohol abusers, subjected him to multiple beatings and repeated punishments.

They repeatedly poured neat salt into his mouth, causing him to vomit.

Daniel was also subjected to a "cold water punishment" in which he was held under water to the point of unconsciousness, the judge said, adding that the boy's six-year-old sister had witnessed it.

The couple regularly locked the little boy inside a bare box room with no toys, removing the inner door handle so he could not escape and making him to go the toilet on his bed.

But the judge said the "particularly grave aggravating feature" of the case was the "chronic and systematic starvation" that they subjected him to.

Daniel's sister smuggled him food because he was so hungry, while the little boy was forced to scavenge for food from other children's lunch boxes or from rubbish bins.

The judge said Daniel died after a "brutal assault" by shaven-headed Krezolek, just after the child was again given salt and held beneath the water.

The pair failed to call for an ambulance for 33 hours, during which time they looked on the Internet for medical advice as he lay unconscious in his box room.

An autopsy found 23 injuries on his emaciated body.

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Gifts for royal baby from UK politicians

Written By prayud samsah on Kamis, 01 Agustus 2013 | 20.48

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron has given royal baby Prince George a box-set of books by much-loved children's author Roald Dahl as a present following his birth last week, Downing Street says.

Dahl's many hits include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda - musical versions of which are both currently entertaining audiences in London's West End - as well as Fantastic Mr Fox, The Twits and George's Marvellous Medicine.

However, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may have to wait a few years before reading the tales to their first son - born 10 days ago - as Dahl's anarchic and sometimes spine-chilling works are generally enjoyed by children who are well beyond the toddler years.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam sent proud parents William and Kate a big bag of coffee to help them cope with the fatigue caused by sleepless nights caring for their new baby.

The Cleggs also gave George a white cot cover and sheet hand-embroidered by nuns in Miriam's home village in Spain, where the Cleggs were holidaying at the time of the royal birth last week.

Speaking on his regular Call Clegg phone-in on LBC 97.3 radio, Clegg said: "Miriam and I sent a letter with a gift just yesterday to Kensington Palace.

"The gift comes in two parts. We found a beautiful cot cover and cot sheet which is hand-embroidered in a convent in the village where Miriam comes from in Spain, where I was for a few days a few days ago.

"We have thrown in with the gift a large bag of our favourite coffee, because as parents of young boys we know you need coffee when you are coping with little boys."

Labour leader Ed Miliband gave George an apple tree, which aides said was a traditional gift for a first-born son.

The tree is three years old and nearly ready for planting out, and already has some fruit growing on it.

It was sourced from local community groups the Brent Eleven Streets residents association and the London Orchard Project.

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US files reveal decades of abuse

IN therapy sessions, the priest confessed the shocking details he'd kept hidden for years: He had molested more than 100 boys, including his five-year-old brother. He had sex with male prostitutes, and frequented gay strip clubs.

The admissions of the Reverend Ruben Martinez are included among nearly 2000 pages of secret files unsealed on Wednesday that were kept on priests, brothers and nuns who belonged to religious orders but were accused of child molestation while working within the Los Angeles archdiocese.

The papers, which were released under the terms of a $US660 million settlement agreement reached in 2007, are the first glimpse at what religious orders knew about the men and women they posted in Roman Catholic schools and parishes in the Los Angeles area. T

he archdiocese itself released thousands of pages under court order this year for its own priests who were accused of sexual abuse, but the full picture of the problem remained elusive without the orders' records. Several dozen more files are expected to be released by the fall.

The documents cover five different religious orders that employed 10 priests or religious brothers and two nuns who were all accused in civil lawsuits of molesting children. Among them, the accused had 21 alleged victims between the 1950s and the 80s.

Some of the files released on Wednesday, including those of the nuns, don't mention sexual abuse at all, and others appear to have large gaps in time and missing documents. The release included documents from the Oblates, the Marianists, the Benedictines and two orders for religious sisters.

That the files don't reflect some of the alleged abuse doesn't mean it didn't happen, said Ray Boucher, lead lawyer for some abuse victims. "Much of this went unreported. You're talking about kids that were terrorised and frightened in so many different ways, with no place and no one to turn to."

At more than 500 pages, Martinez's file is among the most complete, and it paints a devastating picture of a troubled and repressed child who later joined the priesthood to satisfy a domineering and devout father.

The Los Angeles archdiocese settled eight lawsuits over Martinez's actions in 2007, but had little documentation on him in its own files even though the priest worked in its parishes for years in the 70s and 80s.

However, his order file includes graphic details described in therapy notes and psychiatric evaluations. It also reveals the years of effort - and tens of thousands of dollars - the Oblates spent trying to cure him of his self-admitted pedophilia as it shuttled him between programs, including inpatient treatment.

In 1965, Martinez took his final vows for a religious order called the US Province of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a nearly 200-year-old Catholic organisation with roots in France. In 1969, he was ordained as a priest and assigned by his order to a small parish in Brawley, California.

In a 1993 psychiatric report - one of several such evaluations done between 1991 and 2005 by various treatment programs - the priest admitted to molesting children beginning in 1970, when he began playing "giddy up" games with young boys on his lap. In the documents, Martinez says he stopped "direct sexual contact" with boys after a mother complained to a pastor in 1982 and that he stopped touching boys altogether after another complaint in 1986.

It's unclear whether his religious order or the archdiocese was aware of those complaints, but around the same time as the first complaint, Martinez began weekly therapy sessions. He entered a counselling program for people with sexual compulsions after the second complaint in 1986.

In 1991, he received five months of inpatient psychological treatment from a centre in Jemez Springs, New Mexico that specialised in treating troubled priests.

Upon his release, Martinez was assigned to a tiny parish in the remote town of Westmorland, California, in the far southeastern corner of the state. While there, he would drive miles to San Diego to pick up male prostitutes, according to his file.

He was removed from parish ministry in 1993, enrolled in a sex offender program and sent to live and work at the order's California headquarters in Oakland after another complaint surfaced from his past. For the rest of his career, he filled administrative roles.

Carolina Guevara, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles archdiocese, did not address the current file release specifically but said religious orders are expected to make sure the priests they present for ministry in the archdiocese don't have any history of sex abuse.

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Mugabe, rival dispute outcome of polls

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe's allies have declared the veteran leader has romped to an election victory, a claim rejected by his rival who branded the vote a "sham".

A top member of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party said on Thursday that Mugabe had trounced Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Wednesday's presidential and parliamentary elections.

"We have romped (to victory) in a very emphatic manner," said the party member who asked not to be named. "We have won all of them, including the presidential and parliamentary."

But the claim was swiftly slapped down by Tsvangirai, bidding for a third time to end 89-year-old Mugabe's 33-year rule of the troubled southern African country.

"It's a sham election that does not reflect the will of the people," he said, pointing to a litany of alleged irregularities.

"In our view this election is null and void," he added. "This election has been a huge farce."

"The shoddy manner in which it has been conducted and the consequent illegitimacy of the result will plunge this country into a serious crisis."

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said the count has been completed and results are now being collated from the first vote since bloody polls in 2008 led to an uneasy power-sharing deal between Tsvangirai and Mugabe.

Tsvangirai stopped short of claiming victory himself, a move that could have enflamed tensions in a country where political violence is common.

The vote itself passed off peacefully, but in a sign of simmering tensions around 20 riot police were deployed near the headquarters of Tsvangirai's MDC party, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Foreign diplomats and independent Zimbabwean election observers also expressed grave misgivings about the conduct of the poll.

"Up to a million voters were disenfranchised," said Solomon Zwana the chairman of Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which has 7,000 observers. "The election is seriously compromised."

The Catholic Church - which has 3,000 people on the ground - said it was premature to call a winner but there was a "strong feeling" across the country that Mugabe would lose.

"If certain people feel their choice was not accepted they may resort to violence. That potential is still there," a church spokesman said.

The African Union, which has been accused of whitewashing problems in the run-up to the vote, said initial reports indicated it was "peaceful, orderly, free and fair".

Since no Western groups were allowed to monitor the polls, the view of observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) may now be pivotal in deciding how the international community reacts.

The SADC said it will deliver its verdict on Friday.

After years of international sanctions there had been hopes that a free election would allow Zimbabwe to reset relations with the West.

Turnout was reported to be high, with many of the 6.4 million eligible voters queueing before sunrise in the winter cold, hours before polls opened. The lines continued well into the evening, with many marking their ballots by candle light.

Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader, is seeking a seventh term but Tsvangirai has voiced hope the election will usher in a new era.

Final results are expected within five days of the election and police had warned that anyone trying to release unofficial figures ahead of time risked being arrested.

Mugabe himself had even threatened to arrest Tsvangirai if he tried to declare an early victory.

On Tuesday the firebrand had vowed to step down if Tsvangirai was the victor, saying: "If you lose you must surrender."

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Drugmaker AstraZeneca Q2 profit drops 43%

ANGLO-SWEDISH pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has announced a 43 per cent drop in second-quarter net profits, hit by the loss of market exclusivity for some of its main drugs.

AstraZeneca said profit after tax slumped to $US1.834 billion ($A2.06 billion) in the three months to June 30 compared with the second quarter of 2012.

Revenue declined 6.0 per cent to $US6.2 billion, the company said in an earnings statement.

"As expected, the impact from the loss of exclusivity for several brands affected performance in the first quarter, and whilst this impact will be felt throughout the year, comparisons with prior year periods did moderate in the second quarter," AstraZeneca added in the statement.

AstraZeneca recently lost market exclusivity for schizophrenia treatment Seroquel IR and heart-failure medication Atacand in many markets, and for anti-cholesterol drug Crestor in Canada.

In March, the company announced plans to cut 5,050 jobs - or about 9.0 per cent of its current global workforce - over the next three years as it faces increased competition amid patent expiries.

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SocGen bank profit doubles in Q2

FRENCH banking giant Societe Generale says it more than doubled its net profits in the second quarter, pushing its shares up by nearly 6.0 per cent.

The bank said on Thursday the performance reflected an increase in deposits by customers in France and abroad during the period.

Profits for the three months ending June reached 955 million euros ($A1.43 billion), up 119 per cent from the figure in the same quarter last year.

That exceeded market expectations by a wide margin. Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast net earnings of 608 million euros.

Although it reported weak demand for credit in recession-hit France, the bank said there was a "strong deposit inflow" at its domestic business.

Fixed-term deposits in France were up 27 per cent from the figure for the same period last year, while special savings accounts which enjoy certain advantages under the law were up 10.8 per cent.

Its international retail banking network also registered a rise of 5.3 per cent in deposits on the back of a robust inflow in Russia, central and eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

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Jamie Bell, Evan Rachel Wood have son

Written By prayud samsah on Selasa, 30 Juli 2013 | 20.48

BRITISH actor Jamie Bell and wife, actress Evan Rachel Wood, have had a baby boy.

Bell heaped praise on his wife following the birth of their first child.

The Billy Elliot star and the True Blood actress welcomed a baby boy on July 29.

Bell, who walked down the aisle with Wood in October 2012, took to Twitter in the hours after their new arrival came into the world and paid tribute to his partner's strength.

He writes, "Wow! What a day. Evan you are my warrior! You never cease to amaze. Thank you for birthing our son so naturally & peacefully. You did it!"

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Italy court to decide Berlusconi's fate

The fate of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi will be decided by Italy's Supreme Court. Source: AAP

ITALY'S top court is to begin crucial hearings for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi that could end the billionaire tycoon's parliamentary career and risk upsetting the country's fragile coalition.

The supreme court is set to decide on Tuesday whether or not to confirm a one-year prison sentence and a five-year ban from politics in a long-running tax fraud case involving Berlusconi's media business interests.

"Judgment Day", reads a headline in Italy's top-selling Corriere della Sera daily, while La Stampa said in an editorial that the case was like "a giant boulder that is paralysing the entire political framework".

"This is more than a simple verdict," La Stampa said.

The final appeal hearing is expected to start later on Tuesday but Italian media reported that the actual verdict may come only on Wednesday and there is a possibility that the case could be adjourned until September.

The verdict will be a milestone in the history of legal woes and sex scandals that have dogged Berlusconi's 20 years on the Italian political scene including three terms as prime minister.

In other court cases, Berlusconi has been convicted of having sex with an underage prostitute, abusing his powers as prime minister and publishing a secret police wiretap to damage a political rival.

He denies all charges and is appealing against those rulings, accusing prosecutors of being politically biased and pursuing a vendetta against him.

Even if the court upholds Berlusconi's tax fraud conviction, the Senate would still have to vote to allow the sentence to be implemented since Berlusconi has a seat in the upper house of parliament.

Legal experts say there is virtually no chance of Berlusconi being sent to prison because of lenient sentencing guidelines for over-70s in Italy.

There is however a possibility that the media magnate could be put under house arrest in his luxury villa in Milan or placed in the care of social services.

The political ban would eject the 76-year-old from the Senate and prevent him from running for office.

Berlusconi could however remain as a figurehead leader of his centre-right People of Freedom party.

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British female MP threatened on Twitter

British police are investigating violent and sexually explicit Twitter postings directed at an MP. Source: AAP

BRITISH police say they are investigating violent and sexually explicit Twitter postings directed at an MP in a growing row over threats to women on the social network.

Stella Creasy, an MP with the opposition Labour Party, faced a stream of abuse after supporting a feminist activist who was targeted for campaigning for an image of novelist Jane Austen to appear on banknotes.

Another MP said she too was receiving a barrage of offensive messages, while a man has been arrested and bailed over rape threats to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez.

"This isn't about Twitter, this is about hatred of women and hatred of women who speak up," Creasy told BBC radio on Monday.

"Twitter needs to be explicit that sexual violence and sexual aggression will not be tolerated as part of their user terms and conditions."

High-profile women in Britain have long complained of online harassment, but the issue reached front pages after Criado-Perez said she received "about 50 abusive tweets an hour for about 12 hours" last week.

Scotland Yard said on Tuesday that police had received an allegation from an MP about "malicious communications" over comments on Twitter.

Creasy retweeted a series of tweets that included threats from accounts named "killcreasynow" and "eatcreasynow", which have now been suspended.

She said she was reporting the abuse to both Twitter and police.

MP Claire Perry, from Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party, likewise retweeted a string of message including threats of sexual violence and one that read, "please disappear into obscurity and/or alcoholism. or die, whatever."

"I am tempted to shut down my Twitter account given the trolling going on incl. to me -- but that would be giving in," Perry tweeted.

Perry has been advising Cameron on his plans to introduce an "opt-in" system for blocking internet pornography.

The abuse to Criado-Perez sparked a huge outcry among Twitter users and prompted more than 60,000 people to sign an online petition demanding the network introduce a "report abuse" button and review its rules on abusive behaviour.

Twitter has introduced a report button on tweets in its iPhone app and plans to bring it to other platforms.

But some users say the form to which it links is too complex and time-consuming for those receiving a barrage of abusive tweets.

In a blogpost titled "We Hear You", Twitter said on Monday: "We are not blind to the reality that there will always be people using Twitter in ways that are abusive and may harm others".

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UK police recover STG1.2 million violin

TOP violinist Min-jin Kym says she is "on cloud nine" after receiving the news that her 300-year-old Stradivarius, stolen more than two years ago, has been recovered by British police.

"I've now gone from devastation to the other end of the scale - an incredible feeling of elation that hasn't left me," said the 35-year-old on Tuesday.

"I'm still feeling the butterflies in my stomach and am on cloud nine."

The violin, valued at STG1.2 million ($A2.01 million), was stolen from the South Korean-born musician at a cafe near a London train station.

Three people were later convicted of stealing it, but the instrument itself was never found.

Police said experts had verified the authenticity of the violin. It is intact, but has some minor damage.

It was found last week at a property in the Midlands, alongside two bows worth STG67,000, which were stolen at the same time.

The theft had been a "crushing blow", Kym said. "I'd played the instrument since I was a teenager, so it had been a huge part of my identity for many years."

"The detectives in the case had always, quite rightly, been very careful not to give me false hope," she added. "When they told me the good news, it didn't feel real."

Simon Taylor, the detective in charge of the investigation, said he was "absolutely delighted" by the find.

"I always maintained that its rarity and distinctiveness would make any attempt to sell it extremely difficult, if not futile, because established arts and antiques dealers would easily recognise it as stolen property," he said.

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Abbott's Nauru boat plan 'childish': Burke

Immigration Minister Tony Burke says the opposition is silly for announcing plans for Nauru. Source: AAP

THE first group of asylum seekers are expected to be flown to Papua New Guinea on Wednesday under Australia's tough border policy.

Dr Otto Numan, chief executive of the only hospital near Manus Island detention centre, told AAP the group was due early on Wednesday.

This group, believed to be coming from Australia, will be the first arrivals since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his PNG counterpart, Peter O'Neill, agreed to expand asylum-seeker processing two weeks ago.

"I will be at the airport, checking the manifest to make sure they are who they are," Dr Numan said on Tuesday.

In Australia, the federal opposition toughened its asylum seeker policy for a second time in a week, as it tries to catch up to Labor's hardline plan to banish boat arrivals to Papua New Guinea.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the coalition will immediately erect a 2000-person tent city on Nauru to process asylum seekers should it be elected.

The five-year plan will see capacity on Nauru boosted to 5000.

Mr Morrison, who was in Nauru on Tuesday, said he would discuss with President Baron Waqa redeveloping a site for housing asylum seekers after their refugee applications had been assessed.

The coalition's strategy also includes turning back the boats, issuing temporary protection visas and building capacity at Manus Island in PNG.

Immigration Minister Tony Burke said expanding offshore processing in Nauru had merit and he'd raised a similar idea with the island nation's leaders last week.

But the opposition had been "grossly irresponsible" in rushing the policy out and putting a figure on the capacity for the proposed facility.

"People smugglers want to know the figure," Mr Burke told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Abbott brushed off concerns a tent "slum" could be established on Nauru, saying tents would eventually be replaced with permanent shelters.

"Nauru is by no means an unpleasant place to live," he told the Seven Network.

Mr Abbott last week unveiled a military solution to combat people smugglers.

Under a coalition government, a three-star military commander will lead people smuggling and border protection operations.

The asylum seekers to be taken to Manus Island on Wednesday are likely to be only men, with women and children to be moved at a later date.

Mr Burke declined to give further details, due to the risk people smugglers could beginning filling boats with certain groups of people.

"Eventually, everybody goes there," he said.

The Labor policy denies arrivals settlement in Australia and transfers them to PNG for processing and potential resettlement.

Almost 1400 people have arrived since it was announced on July 19.

Meanwhile, Australian Crime Commission figures show 964 people died, or are presumed to have died, between October 2001 and June 2012 trying to come to Australia by boat.

The data doesn't include the recent deaths after boats foundered in Australian waters or on their way here.

Of the 964 deaths cited, 605 occurred since October 2009 - more than one every two days.

Some 111 boats arrived in Australia in 2011-12, compared to just 23 in 2008-09, 117 in 2009-10 and 89 in 2010-11.

Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said the major parties had adopted an approach of "barbarism" in order to win votes in marginal seats.

"Today's effort of one-upmanship, I'll raise you two thousand tents and a slum city on Nauru ... it is an appalling spectacle," Senator Milne told ABC TV.

"We are turning this into an horrendous gulag."

She denied the Green's policy on accepting asylum seekers was "open-ended" despite declining to give an upper limit on arrival numbers.

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Lawsuit over Mandela companies postponed

Written By prayud samsah on Senin, 29 Juli 2013 | 20.48

A SOUTH African judge has postponed a court battle over control of Nelson Mandela's companies after a lawyer for his daughters withdrew from the case.

Daughters Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela are attempting to remove three of Mandela's long-time friends as directors of two investment firms.

Lawyers for the three men, who were appointed by Mandela - human rights lawyer George Bizos, Tokyo Sexwale, a former cabinet minister, and his ex-lawyer Bally Chuene - said the case had been delayed.

"Once they've appointed new legal representation ... they must inform the judge and he will put it on the roll again," a spokeswoman for Norton Rose Fulbright said on Monday.

It was not immediately clear why lawyer Ismail Ayob - who has a chequered past with the anti-apartheid icon - withdrew.

Ayob was himself removed from Mandela's trust after selling fake artwork and pocketing millions of dollars. He paid back nearly $100,000 in a court settlement in 2007.

Mandela's daughters have argued the three remaining trustees were not properly appointed to Harmonieux Investment Holdings and Magnifique Investment Holdings, companies set up to channel proceeds from the sale of Mandela's iconic handprints, for his family's benefit.

The sale reportedly fetched over $US1.7 million when celebrities snapped up the prized prints, which were produced between 2003 and 2005.

Chuene, one of the trustees, has said in court documents Mandela had not wanted his family to run the trust.

Amid a public family spat, Mandela's grandson Mandla has accused his aunts of trying to gain control over the Mandela millions.

"I consider the action by my relatives as a blatant abuse of the elderly," Mandla in a statement on Monday, as his critically-ill grandfather remained in hospital for an eighth week.

"I consider this court action as nothing more than an attempt to loot (Mandela's) monies."

In a separate case, several of Mandela's daughters, grandchildren and his wife won a court order against Mandla to force the reburial of Mandela's three deceased children.

He had moved the remains without their consent.

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Co-founder of 'Russian Google' dies at 48

The co-founder of Russia's most popular search engine Yandex, Ilya Segalovich, has died aged 48. Source: AAP

TRIBUTES have poured in for the visionary co-founder of the Russian search engine Yandex, Ilya Segalovich, who died over the weekend of cancer aged 48.

Along with his former classmate Arkady Volozh, Segalovich turned Yandex into Russia's most popular search engine and a company valued at $US10 billion ($A10.84 billion) on the New York stock exchange.

"I do not know how his encyclopedic knowledge of technologies and his pure vision for the product can be replaced," said Volozh on Monday as he confirmed his co-founder's death.

"He leaves behind him a new generation and new school of IT experts," Volozh added.

Segalovich, who died in hospital in London, transformed the company from an internet pioneer into a household name in Russia where it has 60 per cent of the market and earns comparisons with Google.

"Ilya was a magician, a perfectionist," said top Yandex executive Anton Zabannykh.

Segalovich was in charge of the group's technological development and presided over launches that have allowed Yandex's continual growth, including popular mobile applications launched in 2012.

In May 2012, Yandex enjoyed a successful IPO on the Nasdaq exchange in New York.

Russian protest leader and popular blogger Alexei Navalny also paid tribute to a man sympathetic to the opposition who he said would remain "an example of ethics" in business.

"He was an ideal capitalist. He earned money with his head and hard work, was personally involved in charitable work and was not scared of supporting political projects," said Navalny, one of the first political figures in Russia to understand the power of the internet.

Colleagues and rivals from the IT Russian world also paid tribute to Segalovich, who dreamt up his firm's catchy name from the English phrase "Yet another index".

Segalovich was a "unique engineer and a creator of world-class technology which is an outstanding example in the history of modern Russia," said the fonder of mail provider mail.ru, Yuri Milner, quoted by Vedomosti.

The founder of Russian social network VKontakte, Pavel Durov, said Segalovich's death was a "great loss", saying he was "one of the brightest people in Russian IT".

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Italy bus crash kills 38, injures 19

At least 36 people died when a tour bus filled with Italian pilgrims plunged off a highway in Italy. Source: AAP

A COACH carrying pilgrims has plunged off a motorway flyover in southern Italy, killing at least 38 people in the worst such accident in western Europe in the past decade.

Local prosecutors on Monday launched an investigation into possible manslaughter over Sunday evening's accident near the town of Avellino on the main highway between Naples and Bari.

Rescuers were battling to extract passengers from the mangled wreckage in a wooded area off the road, where a row of beige seats patterned with blue swirls lay, streaked with blood.

Passengers' belongings, including a hat, shoes, and a child's teddy bear littered the ground.

The coach, carrying 48 people including children, rammed several cars on a busy dual carriageway before it plunged off a viaduct through a crash barrier and down a slope about 50 kilometres from Naples in an area described as an accident black spot.

President Giorgio Napolitano described the accident as "an unacceptable tragedy" and called for improved road safety standards.

Police said 38 people had died, including the driver, although Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi had put the number of dead at 39.

Another 10 passengers were injured, along with another nine people in cars hit by the coach before it careered of the road.

The group was returning from a pilgrimage to Pietrelcina in the Campania region of southern Italy, the birthplace of Padre Pio, an Italian priest canonised in 2002 and worshipped in the country's south.

Bodies of many of the dead had been laid out under white sheets, while a small wooden cross was left by a well-wisher, propped up near a bunch of roses by the wreckage.

Relatives and friends comforted each other outside the morgue in the nearby town of Monteforte Irpino as they heard the fate of their loved ones.

The accident was the deadliest in western Europe in a decade and the worst since an October 2010 incident in Ukraine when 45 people died.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta, on a visit to Athens, said it was a "very sad time" for Italy and observed a minute's silence in honour of the victims before addressing a conference in the Greek capital.

"This tragedy has profoundly moved our country ... it is an open wound," he said. "I am grieving for and express my profound sorrow to the families of the victims."

Italian news agency ANSA said the manslaughter probe would look into the possible role of the driver, as well as the state of the coach and the crash barrier on the highway.

ANSA said the driver's body would be examined for the possible presence of alcohol or drugs while traffic police have seized the vehicle documents from the coach operator Mondotravel.

Rescue workers said they had pulled 33 bodies from the wreckage and found three more thrown from the vehicle as it plunged 30 metres down a slope.

Another two died in hospital of their injuries.

"Our men are working to save as many lives as possible," fire chief Pellegrino Iandolo told Sky TG24.

"We are still trying to extract people from the vehicle," a police spokesman said. "Our priority now is to free the wounded."

Photographers at the scene said about a dozen wrecked cars littered the highway.

"Looking down from the overpass, the scene of the tragedy: some 30 bodies covered by white sheets, lined up along the roadside," said Cesare Abbate of ANSA.

One survivor, quoted by his uncle who met him in hospital, reported hearing a tyre exploding and that the driver had been unable to control the vehicle.

The Naples-Bari highway has been closed to traffic, the police said.

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George a 'very good name': Charles

PRINCE Charles has given his new grandson's name the royal seal of approval, describing George as a "very good name", but adding that he'll be called "Georgie in no time".

Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were congratulated on the new arrival by throngs of well-wishers at the Whitstable Oyster Festival in Kent - a week on from the eagerly anticipated royal birth.

The couple were showered with gifts for Prince George including a tiny lemon T-shirt which Charles can pass on to the baby as a souvenir from his trip to the festival.

Shona Corcoran, 38, from Whitstable, said she and her three-year-old daughter Hannah felt that they should bring a gift for the baby prince and the perfect opportunity presented itself on Monday as they passed it on to Charles.

"It's one of the Whitstable Oyster Festival T-shirts and we just wanted to give something to George.

"He said, 'Oh, that's fantastic, thank you. I'm sure he'll like to wear that'," she said.

Charles met a woman who also has a grandchild called George.

Margaret Quinney, 67, said: "He was talking about the grandchildren.

"He said there are lots of grandparents around."

It was after Charles met Quinney and her daughter Jo that he said: "George - a very good name."

Quinney, grandmother to six-month-old George, said they "just had a feeling" the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would call their son George.

"We just had a feeling. We knew it was going to be George," she said.

Sonia Rule, 38, whose partner works for the Whitstable RNLI Lifeboats crew said she heard Charles joke that his grandson will "be known as Georgie in no time".

Charles and Camilla met with local fishermen during their visit to the week-long festival which dates back to Norman times.

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River, Blondes and Kong win at Helpmanns

BLONDES, giant apes and Aussie dramas were just some of the big winners at this year's Helpmann Awards.

Leading the pack was Sydney Theatre Company's production of The Secret River. An adaptation of the 2005 novel by Kate Grenville, it was awarded six Helpmanns, including best play, best direction of a play for Neil Armfield, and best new Australian work.

In the musical categories, the ladies of bubbly, pink-infused Legally Blonde The Musical may have been screaming "oh my God you guys", with the movie adaptation taking home five awards including the top gong for best musical, as well as best choreography and direction for Jerry Mitchell, and acting awards for lead Lucy Durack and supporting actor for Helen Dallimore.

But King Kong ruled across the technical awards.

In fact, a new award titled outstanding theatrical achievement was created solely to recognise the ground-breaking design, creation and operation of the giant ape - not just an Australian first, but the first of its kind in the world.

Alongside this, King Kong also snatched up four additional Helpmanns for scenic design, and design in costume, lighting and sound.

Hosted by Eddie Perfect and Christie Whelan Browne, the 13th Annual Helpmann Awards were held on Monday night at the Sydney Opera House and broadcast on Foxtel's Arena.

The likes of Tim Minchin, Sydney Dance Company, and the casts of Grease and Hot Shoe Shuffle took to the stage to perform throughout the awards ceremony, which recognises the achievements and excellence shown across Australia's live performance industry.

Presenting the 43 awards were Australian talent including Tina Arena, Baz Luhrmann, Miranda Tapsell, Rob Mills, John Waters, Hugh Sheridan and Elizabeth Debicki.

As previously announced, pop music icon Kylie Minogue and arts philanthropist David Blenkinsop were co-recipients of the 2013 JC Williamson Award. Meanwhile Geoffrey Rush added yet another award to his growing list, winning a second Helpmann for his lead role in the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

In opera, Salome was the big winner, taking home best opera, as well as best male performance, best female performance, and best female performance in a supporting role.

Live Performance Australia chief executive Evelyn Richardson says the awards have coincided with the release of the 2012 annual ticketing survey, which showed strong ticket sale, stable attendances and revenue exceeding $1.2 billion.

"More than 16 million people attended live events in 2012 indicating that Australians continue to engage with and be entertained by our wonderful productions," she said in a statement on Monday.

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Work death every 21 days in WA

Written By prayud samsah on Minggu, 28 Juli 2013 | 20.48

SOMEONE dies at work in Western Australia every 21 days, according to the latest government figures on work-related injuries.

Research by Worksafe WA into the 2011-12 period showed 5,350 working people suffered such very severe injuries, with a work fatality every three weeks in the five years from 2008 and 2013.

UnionsWA said the number and rate of very serious work injuries - which resulted in more than 60 working days lost - was higher at any time in the past five years.

"This is a cost to industry through workers' compensation, but more importantly people are often left with life-long disability and a loss of livelihood," said Meredith Hammat, Secretary of UnionsWA.

The report summary said there were 18,562 lost time injuries and diseases of one or more days in WA in 2011-12, while on average, 4,018 workers were being hurt requiring 60 or more days off work.

Unions WA said the figure showed more needed to be done by governments and employers.

"Clearly more needs to be done, by governments, employers and everyone in WA workplaces," Ms Hammat said.

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Jewels worth $A58 million stolen in Cannes

AN armed man held up a jewellery exhibition in the French Riviera resort of Cannes on Sunday, making away with jewels estimated to be worth about 40 million euros ($A57.9 million), according to investigators.

Authorities said the hold-up took place in broad daylight at the Carlton Hotel on the promenade in Cannes, famous for its annual film festival that attracts a glittering array of celebrities.

Hotel management contacted by AFP declined to comment.

During the film festival in May, thieves stole jewellery worth $US1.4 million that was due to be loaned to movie stars from a local hotel in a pre-dawn heist.

That robbery took place in the hotel room of an American woman employee of Swiss jeweller Chopard while she was out for the evening, police said.

A strongbox containing jewels was ripped out of the wardrobe and carried off, they said.

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Govt spends $560,000 to support live music

Labor has promised to spend $560,000 over the next three years on the National Live Music Office. Source: AAP

LIVE music around Australia will get a boost from the federal government with the creation of a new office dedicated to its promotion.

Labor has promised to spend $560,000 over the next three years on the National Live Music Office, which will run within the Australasian Performing Rights Association.

Recently appointed national live music coordinator Ianto Ware will manage it.

Federal Arts Minister Tony Burke said the office would look at key policy, regulatory and process reforms that would support a robust live music scene.

Live music ambassadors including Katie Noonan, Suffa from the Hilltop Hoods, Stavros Yiannoukas from Bluejuice, Kav Temperley, Kevin Mitchell from Jebediah, Dave Faulkner from the Hoodoo Gurus, Leah Flanagan and Dewayne Everettsmith will support the new national office.

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Royal baby George celebrated on stamps

THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had a very special delivery this week - and now the arrival of their son Prince George is to be commemorated with STG1 ($A1.68) stamps.

Isle of Man Post Office is to become the first postal administration to mark the third in line to the throne's birth as they release a sheet of eight stamps congratulating William and Kate.

With the inscription "We could not be happier", as the Duke said upon the birth of his son on Monday, the sheet includes four stamps showing the proud father and four of a smiling Kate.

A gold-foil special postmark with the words "It's A Boy" will be used to cancel the stamps when the postal tribute is released on August 21 with a limited numbered edition of 500.

"We were thrilled to hear the news of the birth of the royal baby, HRH Prince George of Cambridge and delighted to mark the historic occasion with a special commemorative souvenir sheetlet of postage stamps," said Maxine Cannon, general manager of Isle of Man Stamps & Coins.

"Isle of Man Post Office is sending our unique cover to Kensington Palace, the London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, together with one for Prince George.

"We are also sending the commemorative cover to the parents of the four babies who were born on the Isle of Man on the same day as Prince George."

Peter Jennings, a fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society, said: "The stamps of King George V and King George VI are extremely popular with stamp collectors. They are collected and treasured.

"Now is a great opportunity to start a collection of the stamps of the baby boy destined to be the future King George VII."

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Publicis, Omnicom form world No 1 ad group

FRENCH advertising group Publicis and its US rival Omnicom will merge, bringing together the third and second largest firms in the sector to form the world's advertising leader, the two companies say.

The new company, dubbed the Publicis Omnicom Group, whose capital will be split 50-50 between the shareholders of the two firms, will be co-directed by the current bosses, Maurice Levy of Publicis and John Wren of Omnicom, a joint statement said on Sunday.

"For many years, we have had great respect for one another as well as for the companies we each lead," Levy and Wren said in the statement.

"This respect has grown in the past few months as we have worked to make this combination a reality."

The merger, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, will bring together more than 130,000 employees.

It will also bring together such iconic ad agency brands as Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett, Razorfish, Ketchum, ZenithOptimedia, to name a few.

Based on closing prices on July 26, the new group will have a combined market capitalisation of about $US35.1 billion ($A38.20 billion).

It is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Euronext Paris, and included in the S&P 500 and CAC 40.

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