Julian Assange has taken responsibility for the apparent disintegration of his WikiLeaks Party, saying he over-delegated to his team while busy trying to save the life of US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.
Victorian Senate candidate Leslie Cannold quit on Wednesday after a dispute over preferences, claiming the party was failing to live up to it democratic principles.
Her resignation was followed by other senior figures walking away from the party, including a number of people on its National Council.
Mr Assange, who is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, said he had spent the past two months dealing with the Edward Snowden asylum situation. “Trying to save the life of a young man,” Mr Assange told ABC television on Thursday.
“So I admit and I accept full responsibility for over-delegating function to the Australian party while I tried to take care of those situations.”
He said the nine-hour time difference made it difficult being party leader and he hadn’t been aware of the internal problems until Wednesday morning.
“I went to sleep last night and during the night this whole kerfuffle broke in Australia,” he said.
“Leslie didn’t speak to me to address any issues or concerns.
“From my perspective if something is serious you speak to the party leader about it before you speak to the press.”
Dr Cannold’s resignation came shortly after the party announced it was launching an independent review into “errors” made in its preference decisions.
The party faced criticism earlier this week for preferencing the Shooters and Fishers Party and Australia First Party ahead of the major parties and the Australian Greens on its how to vote cards.
Dr Cannold, the No 2 Senate candidate, would have replaced Mr Assange in parliament if he was not able to leave the Ecuadorian embassy. She said it was possible other candidates would also quit the WikiLeaks Party.
“I think there are some very serious problems and that’s why I felt I had to resign,” she told ABC Television.
She too said the time difference between the UK and Australia had made communication with Mr Assange difficult.
National Council member Daniel Mathews announced his resignation late on Wednesday night, citing “the recent fiasco over Senate preferences”.
Mr Mathews was also critical of Mr Assange for only attending one of 13 National Council meetings.
“Helping Ed Snowden is surely more important than attending a council meeting,” he said in a statement.
“But still, attending one out of the first 13 National Council meetings of the party (all of which he could call in to) is a fairly low participation rate in one’s own party.”
Senior Liberal Eric Abetz said the implosion of the WikiLeaks Party highlights the essential instability of minor parties”.
“This is a salutary object lesson on the dangers of voting for minor parties,” Senator Abetz said in a statement.
Kiplagat, 33, won the first gold of the Moscow world championships after timing her race to perfection, taking control in the shadows of the Luzhniki stadium to win in 2:25:44.
The smooth-striding Kiplagat, who led a Kenyan sweep of the medals in Daegu in 2011, stalked Straneo, 37, until the 40-kilometre mark after the two other leading protagonists – Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi and Ethiopian Meselech Melkamu dropped off the pace.
Kiplagat was happy to drop some 30 seconds behind the pace over the first 10k, a strategy she said allowed her to slowly build momentum.
“I felt a bit tired at the start – my body did not react immediately,” she told a news conference. “I just wanted to relax, prepare my body so I could pick up gradually.”
Despite the energy-sapping conditions, Kiplagat’s winning time was just under three minutes quicker than her gold-winning performance in Daegu which was also hot and humid.
Straneo, who underwent major surgery in 2010 to have her spleen and gall bladder removed, had run strongly at the front but was unable respond when the race reached the shade of the Olympic Park and took silver in 2:25:58. Fukushi, 31, secured bronze in 2:27:45 to complete a podium sweep for the thirty-somethings.
Sporting pink trainers, Straneo celebrated her silver by performing a cartwheel on the track and later said she was “the surprise of the day”.
“At 40km I had to let Edna go because I felt pain in the muscles of my legs,” said the Italian, eighth in the Olympic marathon in London.
“I ran my own race from the beginning and my pace was good. The heat was not bad for me. I’m comfortable with it.”
Kiplagat’s victory made up for a disappointing London Olympics last year when she was suffering with flu and trailed home 20th behind Ethiopian Tiki Gelana.
She showed she had regained her form by finishing second in the London marathon in April, but Gelana’s poor season continued on Saturday as she dropped out before the 15-km mark of a race run by the banks of the Moskva river and on a series of loops between the stadium and Red Square.
Gelana also suffered in the London marathon when was knocked to the ground after being struck by a wheelchair athlete mid-race, limping home in 16th place.
(Editing by Mitch Phillips)
The parents of a British tourist who was injured when a New York taxi jumped a curb say they are grateful for the help of bystanders including television celebrity Dr Oz.
Jason and Sonia Green said on Thursday they want to thank New Yorkers for their support following the accident.
“There are not enough words to express our gratitude to everyone who has helped our family during this difficult time,” the couple said in a statement released by Bellevue hospital where their daughter, Sian Green, is recovering.
The family said it wanted especially to thank the men for their help, along with the hospital, its hotel, the airlines and the police department.
“We hope Sian will soon be on her way to recovery and will be able to personally thank all the kind people of New York City,” said the couple, from Leicester, England.
The 23-year-old lost a leg when she was struck by a taxi at Rockefeller Center on Tuesday when she was enjoying the start of a holiday break in the city with a female friend.
Quick-thinking bystanders including a plumber, a nurse and TV personality Dr Mehmet Oz rushed to her aid. Plumber David Justino immediately applied a tourniquet made from a belt.
Justino was praised by medics for his “quick-thinking” after tying his belt around Green’s leg to act as a tourniquet, stemming the blood loss.
Justino told The New York Times he was determined to hold on until help arrived, and then he saw Oz over his shoulder.
“I felt more comfortable when I looked up and saw his face,” Justino said. “I said, ‘What should I do?’ and he said, ‘You’re doing it. You’re doing it.'”
Dr Oz had been filming for a television show near the accident scene in midtown Manhattan about 11am local time.
Food vendor Max Crespo put Green’s severed leg on ice, following the directions of a nurse whose name he didn’t know.
“I took water and grabbed this bucket with ice,” Crespo told the Times. “The nurse, she told me to pour water on her legs, and I did. And that is when she screamed a lot like I was pouring fire on her.”
Dr Spiros Frangos, a senior trauma surgeon at Bellevue hospital, said Green was “fortunate” not to have suffered more serious injury.
Doctors had to amputate her left foot and she has undergone treatment to wounds on her other leg as a result of the accident.
Dr Frangos, Bellevue’s associate director of surgery and director of the surgical intensive care unit, said nothing could have been done to reattach her amputated limb despite the best efforts of medics.
“Ms Green had her left leg amputated below the knee as a result of the accident,” he said.
“Given the condition of the lower leg, replantation was not an option.
“Her right leg sustained multiple deep lacerations which were also cleaned and repaired and will likely regain most functionality with time and physical therapy.”
The cab driver who ploughed into Green said driving a taxi is too stressful and told a newspaper, “I need more suitable job.”
Mohammed Faysal Himon told the New York Post the accident happened after he accelerated to get around a bicyclist who pounded on his car and yelled at him.
Himon said he didn’t remember much after accelerating until he saw Green’s leg by his cab.
He was issued a summons, and police and prosecutors are investigating. Authorities were making moves to suspend his cab licence.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is ordering an intervention into Labor’s New South Wales branch to stamp out corruption and further limit the influence of wealthy property developers on the party.
Mr Rudd said last week he was revolted by the evidence tendered to the Independent Commission Against Corruption in New South Wales.
At his first Cabinet meeting as Prime Minister, Mr Rudd secured agreement to place New South Wales Labor into administration for a period of 30 days to begin the clean up.
And as Amanda Cavill reports, Mr Rudd says this is just the first step in his plan to reform the Australian Labor Party as a whole.
Mr Rudd and New South Wales Labor boss Sam Dastyari have agreed to take steps to improve the party’s image after damning revelations about former state MPs’ conduct was revealed by the state’s Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The Prime Minister and the national executive have handed Mr Dastyari absolute power to begin the reforms.
The changes include a policy of zero-tolerance under which MPs will be expelled if they are investigated for corruption.
New South Wales Labor’s administrative committee, 80 per cent of which is made up of union officials, is expected to be sacked.
Mr Rudd and Mr Dastyari want to have 50 per cent of the new administration made up from rank and file members.
Property developers will also be banned from standing for pre-selection.
It’s the first federal Labor intervention into a Labor branch in more than 40 years.
Mr Rudd says the ALP must be modern, more democratic and representative of the community.
He says it must also be free of the corruption that has been exposed in the New South Wales branch by the state’s anti-corruption agency.
“The labor Party I intend to lead will be a modern Labor party. I want a more democratic Labor party. I want one which is more representative of the face of modern Australia and I want a Labor party which is free from the taint of some of the things we have seen emerge in ICAC in New South Wales.”
The current disputes and credentials committee will be dissolved to make way for the establishment of an independent judicial body to oversee dispute resolution.
Mr Rudd says he also wants an internal ombudsman to hear the complaints of members and conduct timely investigations.
The move has been welcomed by New South Wales Labor leader John Robertson.
“Reform is important and the announcements that the Prime Minister made are absolutely critical. Greater democratisation of our party, implementing reform so it’s easier to remove anyone who’s found to have acted corruptly in our party. Issues that are going to send a very strong message to the community that this great party has a very proud history but also has a future in a contemporary society like Australia.”
The federal opposition says any reform of the corrupt New South Wales Labor party is welcome.
But Coalition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey says given it was the New South Wales Labor party that supported Mr Rudd for Prime Minister, twice, the move is nothing more than a political ploy to fool voters.
“It’s a joke. When Kevin Rudd says that he is going to force an investigation into New South Wales Labor, it’s like the caged animal trying to force an investigation into the zookeeper. It’s a joke. The New South Branch of the Labor Party has delivered Kevin Rudd the leadership of the Labor party not once, but twice and now he’s so revolted by their behaviour that he’s going to investigate it? I mean, come on, please Kevin Rudd, stop treating the Australian people like fools.”
Mr Rudd says his party still wants the full participation of the trade union movement but there is a more diverse base who also need a voice.
And he’s warned this is just the first move towards modernising the whole of the Labor movement in Australia.
“This is the beginning of the reform program. The time has come to modernise the Australian Labor Party. We need to open the windows and the doors of the great Australian Labor Party to the Australian Community. We need to give people full voice, fair opportunity. And of course therefore the task of wider reform of the Australian labor Party beyond New South Wales lies ahead of us and I’ll have more to say on that in the future.”
Mr Dastyari has 30 days to begin implementing the reforms and Mr Rudd has not ruled intervening again in the future, should further changes be necessary.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is expected to hand down its finding in the New South Wales Labor corruption inquiry in the coming weeks.
Relations, already strained in the morning when organisers admitted to a mistaken ruling in Europe’s favour during Friday’s play, became acrimonious as Pressel and Kerr quarreled with Icher and Recari on the 16th hole for over half an hour.
Officials needed to step in to place Recari and Kerr’s balls after both shot into a water hazard and could not agree on each other’s ball placement.
Icher and Recari shrugged off the furore to help Europe sweep the fourballs 4-0 and open a commanding five-point lead heading into Sunday’s singles.
No team has ever rallied from more than two points behind to win the trophy, but U.S. captain Meg Mallon refused to concede.
“Obviously, it was a very disappointing afternoon,” Mallon told reporters. “We have our work cut out for us tomorrow. It can be done. It’s daunting right now but it can be done.”
Trailing 5-3 after the opening day, the U.S. had pulled within a point after winning the morning foursomes 2.5 to 1.5, but Nordqvist, playing with Caroline Hedwall, fired up the Europeans by acing the 187-yard par-three 17th at Colorado Golf Club.
That sealed the clash with Pressel and Jessica Korda 2&1, and marked the Swede as the first player to make a hole-in-one in the tournament’s history.
“I don’t think it has hit me yet,” Nordqvist said. “It was a really good shot, going straight at it. We thought it might be a little long, but it pitched and hit, and it’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer prevailed one-up over Azahara Munoz and Icher, while Michelle Wie and Brittany Lang won 2&1 over Suzann Pettersen and Beatriz Recari to give the U.S. early momentum in the foursomes.
The Americans were up in arms after organizers confirmed in the morning that Europeans Pettersen and Carlota Ciganda were given a favourable and incorrect ruling on the par-five 15th during their duel with Lewis and Lexi Thompson on Friday.
Ciganda hit her second shot into a water hazard and was allowed to take an incorrect drop before eventually halving the hole and going on to win the match.
The LPGA apologised “for any confusion” in a statement, but Lewis, who had argued the point with officials on Friday, was not mollified.
“It hurt us. It hurt our team. It hurt the momentum,” she said. “But … it fired us up more. So, if anything, if they feel bad about it, that’s good, because we’re just more fired up out of it.”
Catriona Matthew and Caroline Masson salvaged a half for Europe in the morning foursomes against Britanny Lincicome and Lizette Salas, before Europe tore through the afternoon.
Jodi Ewart-Shadoff and Charley Hull won two-up over Creamer and Thompson, and Munoz and Ciganda prevailed one-up against Gerina Piller and Angela Stanford.
Hedwall and Masson won 2&1 over Wie and Korda, before Recari and Icher completed the sweep with a one-up win over and Kerr and Pressel following their 16th hole squabble.
The U.S. will need a monumental effort on Sunday to score the 14.5 points needed for victory, effectively nine out of the 12 singles battles.
Europe’s five-point lead is the equal biggest in the competition’s history heading into Sunday.
(Reporting by Ben Everill; Editing by Ian Ransom)
The United Nations says one million Syrians have fled their homeland since a revolt erupted two years ago.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says a year ago it had only registered 33-thousand refugees.
This year alone, already in excess of 400,000 more Syrian refugees have fled the country of about 22 million.
Kerri Worthington reports.
The official one-millionth refugee is Bushra, a 19-year-old from Homs.
“We are living now in Lebanon, Tripoli. Our situation is so bad, everything is so expensive, we can’t find any work… The situation is so bad, I live with 20 other people in one room.” “We want to go back to our country, go back to Syria, we wish for the crisis to be resolved and live in peace.”
But Bushra is far from being the last refugee from Syria.
Even as she and her two children were registered with the UNHCR in Tripoli, several hundred families — mostly women and children — were lined up behind her waiting their turn.
The UNHCR representative in Lebanon, Ninette Kelly, says by highlighting that the number of refugees has passed the million mark, the organisation hopes to remind the world of how serious the situation is in Syria.
“A million represents a million individual lives, a million individual lives who have been uprooted in a great sense of tragedy and loss that accompanies that flight from violence and insecurity.”
Lebanon is the smallest of the Syria’s neighbours but is the country that has received the most refugees.
The UNHCR says almost 330,000 people are sheltering in Lebanon.
Nearly as many are in Jordan, while others have fled to Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, says the huge numbers of refugees has had a big impact on Syria’s neighbours.
“One can imagine in the most sensitive region in the world what impact the Syrian crisis has and if we want to avoid an explosion in the Middle East, if we want to guarantee the peace and the stability in the countries around, it is very important to find a political solution for the Syrian crisis before things gets much worse than what they are now.”
While the Syrian situation continues to be a major topic of discussion at the United Nations Security Council, and among the nation members of the Arab League, refugee workers are busy making the lives of those who’ve fled a little less miserable.
In one of the biggest camps, Zaatari in Jordan, homesick young refugees are flocking to a Youth Empowerment Centre that opened last October.
It’s operated by the International Medical Corps psychological support program.
The head of the program, Ahmad Bawaneh, says children account for almost 60 percent of the refugees, most of whom have witnessed unimaginable difficulties.
“They arrive here, some of them harbouring feelings of anger, or feelings of sadness that are not extreme enough to be considered a psychological illness. However, in our opinion these children need social and psychological support, and this is why we opened these centres, as they offer the opportunity for them to have social initiatives that may help them adapt to the situation, and may help others as well.”
A federal Liberal election candidate has resigned after apologising to voters and Opposition Leader Tony
Abbott over a personal website containing lewd and sexist content.
Mr Abbott’s office confirmed on Tuesday evening Kevin Baker won’t stand for former Labor minister Greg Combet’s NSW seat of Charlton.
But his name remains on the ballot paper because nominations have closed.
“I understand that while my name will still appear on the ballot paper, my campaign is over,” Mr Baker said in a statement.
“I deeply regret the posts made on my website and decided it wasn’t appropriate to continue as the party’s candidate.”
His resignation came after Mr Abbott was on Tuesday afternoon briefed about his case.
Mr Baker was forced to shut down his “Mini-Mods” forum site for car enthusiasts.
The site contained references to incest, domestic violence, racism and child abuse and the content can still be viewed under cache settings.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had called on Mr Abbott to “man up” and disendorse Mr Baker.
NSW Liberal director Mark Neeham confirmed the party would not be represented in Charlton at the election, meaning there would be no more campaigning or money spent.
However, voters can still tick the box supporting Mr Baker on September 7.
Mr Abbott said earlier on Tuesday Mr Baker had done the wrong thing.
“He has abjectly apologised, as he should, and the site has been closed down,” Mr Abbott said.
“Yep, he’s done the wrong thing.”
Soon after the federal election campaign began, Labor candidate for the safe seat of Hotham Geoff Lake was sacked over remarks he made to a Monash City councillor 11 years ago.
“We intervened, took counsel and acted,” Mr Rudd.
Mr Abbott said Labor was in no position to lecture the coalition about political probity, given that its ministers had appeared before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Fortescue Metals is pushing ahead with the sale of a minority stake in its rail and port infrastructure, despite favourable conditions helping the iron ore miner to pay down its debt.
Fortescue recently put back a decision on the potential sale by three months to the end of September.
The iron ore miner raised the prospect of a partial sale as part of measures to address its debts levels.
But chief executive Nev Power said there was no real deadline for making the decision, as the company came closer to completing its capital expansion.
“We set that as a bit of an expectation, saying that’s when we expected things might finalise and that process is continuing,” Mr Power told the Diggers and Dealers mining conference.
“We’re working through the people that have expressed an interest on that.”
He said it was a relatively complex transaction, and the company wanted to make sure the assets could be operated efficiently and expanded to meet future needs.
“We’ve continued to look to improve our cash flow from operations and reducing costs,” Mr Power said.
“A higher than predicted iron ore price … a softening Australian dollar, the prepayments that we’ve been able to transact and other non-core asset sales have all contributed to the improvement in our cash position and they all add to our ability to repay that debt sooner.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to prioritise one before the other but we’re continuing to work on all of those options.”
Mr Power also said the Fortescue board was considering options to pay off debt more rapidly to improve the balance sheet.
Fortescue expects to reduce its capital expenditure from $6.2 billion in 2013 to less than $2 billion next year.
Mr Power reiterated that the company was on track to produce 155 million tonnes of iron ore by the end of the year.
He also lashed out at naysayers who are worried about a slowdown in China.
“I’ve never seen so many people negative on China that have never been there or never really studied it,” he said.
“China is a phenomenal economy.”
Hawthorn’s chances of holding top spot on the AFL ladder has suffered a blow with skipper Luke Hodge ruled out for one to two weeks with a fractured thumb.
Hodge had surgery on Monday after hurting his thumb during the last quarter of Saturday’s upset loss to seventh-placed Richmond, which was only the Hawks’ third defeat in 2013.
While Hawthorn will start as strong favourites against third-bottom side St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, their round-21 blockbuster clash with sixth-placed Collingwood at the MCG on August 16 is likely to be a tougher encounter, especially if Hodge, who is a strong motivator, is still on the sidelines.
“Luke has had corrective surgery today to repair a minor fracture in his thumb and we expect he will return in 1-2 weeks,” Hawthorn’s acting football manager Chris Fagan said in a statement released on Monday night.
Hawthorn ruckman David Hale admits complacency hurt the Hawks in their surprise loss to Richmond.
Badly needing a big scalp, the Tigers jumped Hawthorn and pulled away for an outstanding 41-point win on Saturday.
While it confirmed Richmond’s long finals drought is over, the match left the league’s top side collectively scratching their heads.
It came only eight days after Hawthorn had dismantled Essendon by 56 points, strongly suggesting they were right on track for their title tilt.
“You can’t be complacent,” Hale said on Monday.
“You can’t go into a game and just think it’s going to happen.
“You have to ‘turn up’ every week.
“The first quarter, we were probably lucky to be within three goals.
“If we come with the right mindset, we think we can match it with anyone.”
Hale added there was no physical letdown from the Essendon game.
He said Monday’s video review with coach Alastair Clarkson would probably be unpleasant.
Clarkson was philosophical post-match, noting Hawthorn’s form had been impressive since their last poor performance, also against the Tigers in round nine last year.
But Hale conceded there were likely to be some barbs from the feisty Hawks coach.
“Going through the tape, he might find a few things that he didn’t agree with too much,” Hale said.
“We served it up, so we have to cop what happens.”
Hawthorn are certain to hit back hard this week, with Richmond coach Damien Hardwick saying he pitied their next opponents.
Hawthorn’s run to the finals features matches against St Kilda, Collingwood, 10th-placed North Melbourne and second-placed Sydney who are on 58 points, just half a win behind the Hawks.
“I’d say Clarko will have us pretty primed from the start this week, so it’s something where we have to bounce back,” Hale said.
“A lot of players were probably down on the weekend.”
Usain Bolt equalled the record for the number of world athletics championship gold medals on Sunday when he anchored the Jamaican 4x100m relay team to victory at the 2013 edition in Moscow.
It was the Jamaican’s eighth world gold medal after winning the 100m and 200m at the Berlin worlds in 2009, the 200m in Daegu in 2011, the 100m and 200m in Moscow this week, as well as golds as part of the winning Jamaican 4x100m relay squads in 2009, 2011 and now 2013.
It means Bolt joins American women’s 200m specialist Allyson Felix, and retired US track stars Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson who, including relays, have all won eight world championship gold medals.
Bolt moves to the top of the all-time world championships medals table with eight golds and two silvers, edging Lewis’ eight golds, one silver and one bronze.
The quartet of individual 100m bronze medallist Nesta Carter, Kemar Bailey-Cole, Nickel Ashmeade and Bolt clocked 37.36sec in the race at a packed Luzhniki Stadium.
It capped another remarkable week for Bolt, who first reclaimed his world 100m title in Moscow in emphatic style, clocking a season’s best 9.77sec in heavy rain.
He then powered to a third successive world 200m title, destroying the field to finish in 19.66sec.
The relay, however, was far from plain sailing in the battle with traditional rivals the United States and Britain.
The US claimed silver in 37.56sec and Canada the bronze (37.92). Britain initially took third but were disqualified for “changing outside the sector in the second baton exchange”.
Starting in lane four, Carter ran the first leg but was pegged back by British teenager Adam Gemili on his outside.
A sharp opening leg from American Charles Silmon allowed Mike Rodgers to explode into his second leg, drawing level with Jamaican Kemar Bailey-Cole.
Bailey-Cole’s baton passover to Ashmeade, fifth in the 100m final, went as planned and the latter did well to claw back some of the metres lost.
Then came disaster for the US, as Rakieem Salaam fluffed his handover to anchorman Justin Gatlin, the 100m silver medallist’s right foot straying five times into the Jamaican lane as he struggled to take control of the baton.
That error handed Bolt, with a smooth handover from Ashmeade, just the space he needed to unfold his towering frame into an explosive final leg.
There was no easing up from the Jamaican sprint legend, teeth gritted, arms and legs pumping as he strove for the finish line with a savage dip.
A little earlier on Sunday, Jamaica regained the women’s 4×100 metres relay title in Moscow.
The Jamaicans timed a championship record 41.29 seconds to take gold while France crossed in second place (42.73sec) and defending champions the US in third (42.75sec).
The United States, however, were elevated to silver with France being disqualified for exchanging the baton outside the zone, and Britain were awarded the bronze.
The Jamaicans’ victory means Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce becomes the first woman sprinter to win the individual events (100m/200m) and the 4x100m relay at a world championships.
On Thursday, the 26-year-old had become only the third woman to do the individual double.
Fraser-Pryce sped down the track – with Usain Bolt watching and mouthing ‘go on, go on’ from the athletes’ call room where he was waiting to be called for his relay final.