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Bikies, your game is over: Qld premier

The party is over for bikies in Queensland as new laws enable an unprecedented crackdown on criminal gangs, the state premier says.

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Campbell Newman says under the legal changes the state’s crime watchdog will be given powers to call in and question bikie gang members.

The new laws will be introduced to parliament next week. They will allow the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) to force bikies to face hearings in its star chamber, where suspects could face mandatory jail terms if they refuse to answer questions.

The state is also allocating an extra $7 million to fight crime.

Mr Newman fired a broadside at criminal bikies and warned them that his crackdown had only just begun.

“I just say to them (bikies) its time to get a real job. Its time to know that it’s now over. The party’s over, the game’s over, we are going to actually go after you in a way that nobody ever has before and we’ve only just started,” he told the Courier-Mail on Friday.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the CMC has been hamstrung, but the changes would make it easier for them to haul criminals into the star chamber.

“The CMC, on a reasonable suspicion, will be able to call people for crime purposes, for investigative purposes, and gathering criminal intelligence purposes,” he said.

There’s been a statewide crackdown on bikies, particularly the prominent Bandidos and Finks gangs, since a brawl outside a Gold Coast restaurant and a riot outside a police station two weeks ago.

Queensland’s government has put more police on the beat, proposed tougher laws and provided a blank cheque for law enforcement.

Mr Newman has also been pushing for other states to launch crackdowns, so bikies have nowhere to hide.

His call comes as Victorian police launched its largest operation on a single bikie gang in that state’s history on Thursday.

More than 700 police, including federal and customs’ officers, raided Hells Angels clubhouses across Melbourne seizing guns, ammunition, drugs, $50,000 cash and arresting 13 people.

A national meeting between attorneys-general was being held on Friday to talk about toughening national bikie laws.

WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan also said state and federal police commissioners would meet on Monday to talk about cracking down on bikies across the country.

Mr Newman said he knew his crackdown would be challenged and some laws overturned, but promised that wouldn’t break his resolve.

“We are going to continue to try again. There are many mechanisms that we are going to use,” the premier said.

“I don’t particularly mind how these people go to jail, but I want to see them behind bars and so do all Queensland citizens.”

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Spain on brink after scraping past cautious Belarus

The victory lifted Vicente del Bosque’s side three points clear of second-placed France with one match to play and a point against lowly Georgia in Albacete on Tuesday will secure the world and European champions a berth at the finals in Brazil.

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Spain dominated against ultra-defensive Belarus, who are bottom of the group, but struggled to create clear chances until Xavi netted in the 61st minute with a powerful strike from the edge of the area that left goalkeeper Aleksandr Gutor rooted to the spot.

Centre back Sergio Ramos was the unlikely provider of the second goal 12 minutes from time when he found himself on the right wing and clipped over a perfect cross for Negredo to send a superb diving header low into the corner.

Sergei Kornilenko pulled a goal back for Belarus in the 89th minute from one of their few forays forward but it was nothing more than a consolation.

“We weren’t effective enough with the final pass but in the end we got the win and it’s a very important step towards the World Cup,” Xavi told Telecinco television.

“Alvaro’s goal gave us some breathing room and at the end the Belarus goal gave us a bit of a shock but it turned out fine. It’s tough when teams shut up shop at the back with all 10 players in their half.”

Xavi was captaining the side in the absence of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has fallen out of favour at his club Real Madrid and was replaced in the starting lineup by Barcelona’s Victor Valdes.

Del Bosque also handed a debut to Michu but the Swansea City forward made little impact before being replaced by Negredo in the 57th minute.

Spain’s clearest chance of an uninspiring first half fell to Negredo’s Manchester City team mate David Silva when his shot from just outside the area was comfortably saved by Gutor.

Centre back Gerard Pique, who had earlier been booked for handling, rode his luck just before the break when the ball appeared to strike his arm in the area and the referee waved away Belarus claims for a penalty.

SIMILAR PATTERN

With most of Spain’s attacks foundering against a massed defence, Del Bosque brought off left back Nacho Monreal at halftime and replaced him with playmaker Andres Iniesta.

The switch gave the home side even more control and Iniesta and Pedro, who scored a hat-trick in Spain’s 4-0 win over Belarus in Minsk a year ago, added the width they had been missing in the first half.

“It was more or less as we were expecting and practically all our games follow a similar pattern,” said Del Bosque. “We didn’t have much penetration but the important thing was getting the three points.

“We still have one more game and we have to prepare effectively. The Georgians are going to make things tough for us too and we still haven’t sealed qualification.”

France, who are assured of a playoff place next month, play their final qualifier at home to Finland on Tuesday.

(Writing by Iain Rogers in Madrid editing by Ken Ferris and Tony Jimenez)

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Move in Italy against racism rules

A sports justice court has postponed a ruling on a one-game stadium ban for fans of Serie A side AC Milan imposed for offensive chants, the ANSA news agency reported on Friday.

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The club was backed by rival supporters in an appeal against the ban which would have barred spectators for Milan’s game at the Giuseppe Meazza against Udinese on October 19.

Milan fans took part in offensive chants at last Sunday’s game at Juventus directed towards Serie A rivals Napoli.

A sports judge based the ban on anti-racism rules Italian clubs adopted in August following guidelines from European body UEFA.

The stadium closure was to follow an earlier ban after Milan fans chanted similar insults during a game against Napoli. In that case, the ban only affected the home-fan sector for a game against Sampdoria.

It is believed the court will rule on the case after a meeting between the league of professional clubs (Lega Serie A) and the Italian football federation (FIGC), which next week will address the case and possibly introduce a distinction between racism and “territorial discrimination.”

“I think it is legitimate to urge guidelines that distinguish expressions of intolerance, prejudice and contempt from those with ironical and non-offensive tone,” Sports Minister Graziano Delrio was quoted as saying.

Lega boss Maurizio Beretta and FIGC president Giancarlo Abete, along with the presidents of Milan, Juventus and Lazio, also expressed similar views.

Diehard fans from various clubs, including Inter Milan, Juventus and Lazio, have sided with Milan and threatened similarly offensive chants in order to cause the closure of their stadiums.

Several supporters’ websites this week condemned racist abuse but said they should not be compared with chants that stress long-existing rivalry among clubs.

Roma, Lazio and Inter have had home-fan sectors closed over racial abuse episodes since the start of the season.

Sports authorities now seem inclined to reconsider punishments, to differentiate between forms of abuse while trying to crack down on unruly fans.

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Child abuse inquiry back in NT

The national inquiry into child sex abuse will return to the Northern Territory to continue private hearings with people affected by child sexual abuse while they were in institutions.

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The Royal Commission spent time in the territory this week meeting with members of the Stolen Generation who had suffered abuse in institutions when they were children.

Royal Commission CEO Janette Dines said: “Around 40 people attended the meetings which were an opportunity for people to speak with trained investigators in an informal setting where they could feel safe.

“The Royal Commission wants to make it easy for as many people as possible to tell their story, and be heard and believed,” Ms Dines said in a statement.

The commission was not due to be in the Northern Territory until next week but provided extra sessions to hear from members of the Stolen Generation after community lobbying, the ABC has reported.

Ms Dines said the Royal Commission would also hold private sessions in Darwin from October 15.

“This is a chance for any Territorian affected by child sexual abuse in an institution to tell a Royal Commissioner what happened to them.

“We’ve had a strong response from Territorians wanting to tell their story. People have different reasons for coming forward. Many people want the Royal Commission to know what happened to them as a child and the impact it has had on their lives,” Ms Dines said.

On Wednesday, October 16 the Chair of the Royal Commission, Justice Peter McClellan, will be meeting with support services in Darwin to talk about the Royal Commission’s work.

Ms Dines said the forum would focus on how community organisations can help their clients engage with the Royal Commission.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse said it would return to other parts of the Northern Territory for further private sessions in the future.

Anyone wishing to tell their story to the commission can find out more by visiting the website www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au

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Fine stayed while Vic government appeals

The Victorian Government will fight a Federal Court ruling and a $53,000 fine that it breached workplace laws.

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Federal Court Justice Mordy Bromberg on Friday penalised the government with a fine for breaking federal workplace laws, and ordered the fine be paid to the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

Justice Bromberg found in May the government broke the laws by threatening not to use builder Lend Lease on the new Bendigo Hospital project.

The government is already appealing that decision and a spokesperson on Friday said it would also appeal against the penalty.

“The government considers that it has not infringed Commonwealth law and that imposing a civil penalty in circumstances where the government has fully complied with the court’s ruling since it was made only causes unnecessary cost to Victorian taxpayers,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“The government considers there are good grounds to appeal against today’s decision, as well as continuing with the appeal already underway against the court’s original finding that Victoria has infringed Commonwealth law.” The Victorian Government had said the four-year pay and conditions deal struck by Lend Lease and the CFMEU in 2012 did not comply with its construction code.

Justice Bromberg also found the government contravened the Fair Work Act by trying to coerce a small recycling company, Eco, to change a workplace agreement.

But the fines were stayed while the state government appeals the May judgment.

After the ruling, the CFMEU said the government should stop fighting court battles and instead “focus their energies and resources on creating jobs and saving lives in what is a high risk industry”.

Minister for Employment Eric Abetz said the Federal Government will intervene in the appeal against the federal court decision.

“As the Federal Courts decisions may have significant implications for the operation of the general protections provisions of the Fair Work Act, I consider it to be in the public interest that the Commonwealth intervene to make submissions about their correct interpretation,” Senator Abetz said. He said he would not comment further as the matter was before the court.

A Victorian Government spokesperson said the Victorian Code of Practice guidelines for the building and construction industry have been adjusted to comply with the Federal Court’s previous findings, pending the outcome of the appeal by the government.

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Men in black fall foul of Tour officials

RadioShack’s team colours are red and grey.

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However, seven-time champion Armstrong and his teammates showed up for the 20th and final stage wearing black outfits emblazoned with the number 28.

That is a reference to the 28 million people Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation estimates are living with cancer.

The American famously battled cancer in 1998 to return to racing and win the Tour seven times consecutively.

In recent years his Livestrong foundation has been involved in raising awareness, and funds, in a bid to beat the disease.

But his latest bid was kept in check by International Cycling Union (UCI) officials on Sunday.

After turning up wearing black for the 20th and final stage from Longjumeau to the Champs Elysees in Paris, the rest of the peloton had to wait while they were forced to change back to red and grey.

Race jury president Franceso Cenere told French TV: “It is forbidden to change jersey in a stage race without an authorisation from the UCI.

“They had to change jersey otherwise they would have been excluded from the race.”

Armstrong decided to try again after the stage, when he and his team turned up at the podium to receive their prize for dominating the teams’ classification wearing black.

“In the end, I think the fact we had to change the jerseys (before the stage) gave us some publicity,” Armstrong told France Televisions.

On what was his final Tour campaign, Armstrong finished the race nearly 40 minutes behind Spain’s three-time winner Alberto Contador, his former teammate at Astana in 2009.

The 38-year-old American is at the centre of serious doping allegations levelled recently by former teammate Floyd Landis.

Landis’s accusations have led to the launching of a federal investigation into alleged doping practices of Armstrong and other riders at his former team, US Postal.

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BP’s robot submarines cap oil leak

BP’s robotic submarines wrestled a cap into place over the jagged end of a pipe from ruptured well deep below the Gulf of Mexico, in a dramatic bid to stem a disastrous oil spill.

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Live video feed provided by BP showed the inverted, funnel-like cap being attached to the well’s fractured riser pipe in near-freezing waters, nearly a mile (1,600 meters) below the surface. BP aims to then siphon the oil to a ship on the surface.

Oil and gas continued to spew out unimpeded with great force, complicating efforts to determine whether the cap was in fact a good fit. BP officials and the US Coast Guard did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

But engineers have already acknowledged that the cap will not be a fix-all, and some of the crude will still spew out even if it is successfully placed over the gusher.

BP earlier managed to slice off the fractured well pipe with a pair of giant shears, but the cut was jagged and officials had to resort to a looser-fitting cap.

The British energy giant’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, has warned it could take about a day after the cap is put in place to know if it is managing to contain the worst of the spill, amid warnings that, with the broken pipe cut off, the oil flow would initially increase by up to 20 percent.

The firm has repeatedly tried — and failed — to contain the disastrous leak since an April 20 explosion tore through the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig just off the Louisiana coast.

Between 22 million and nearly 36 million gallons of crude have already spewed into Gulf waters, threatening vulnerable coastal wetlands, wildlife and livelihoods, according to US government estimates.

After the cap, the next chance to halt the flow would not come until mid-August, when relief wells are completed.

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Republicans are radicals: Obama

US President Barack Obama on Friday branded Republicans as radical and reactionary, in campaign appearances for high-profile Democratic senators under threat in November’s mid-term polls.

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Obama rallied crowds in Los Angeles, California, and was to move on to gambling paradise Nevada in a bid to rescue wobbling Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid, on the third day of a four-day campaign blitz.

He charged that the first Republican president, his political hero Abraham Lincoln would not be able to win the opposition party’s presidential nomination in the modern age.

“Seriously, can you imagine him trying to run with these folks?” Obama said, in a bid to portray the Republican Party as outside the mainstream ahead of November 2 congressional polls in which his Democrats fear heavy losses.

Obama accused Republicans of sitting on their hands while he saved the economy from a second Great Depression and of wanting to go back to the same lax regulatory regimes that caused the crisis in the first place.

“This agenda that poses as conservatism is not conservative. It resulted in a radical shift from record surpluses to record deficits, allowed Wall Street to run wild, nearly destroyed our economy,” Obama said.

“This is a choice between the past and the future, between fear and hope, between moving backwards and moving forwards. And I don’t know about you, but I want to move forward,” Obama said, at a campaign event for under-fire Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.

“They are clinging to the same worn-out, tired, snake-oil ideas that they were peddling before.”

At a second event in Los Angeles, featuring actor and comedian Jamie Foxx as a warm up act, Obama fired off his stump speech to a crowd of 32,500 people, as 5,000 more watched on a big screen set up in an overflow area.

Republicans need to win 39 seats to take back the House after four years of Democratic control — a task well within their reach with some analysts judging up to 90 races in the 435-seat chamber as competitive.

In the Senate, Republicans need a 10-seat swing, a result that may be beyond them after several races tightened in favor of Democrats in recent days, and a scenario of six or seven seats changing hands seems more likely.

Obama was later to head to Nevada to take part in a Democratic National Committee rally alongside Reid, who is the top Republican target in the election, and is locked in a close race with “Tea Party” conservative favorite Sharron Angle.

He was due to finish up a campaign swing, which has also taken in Oregon and Washington state, in Minnesota on Saturday.

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Thorpe drops defamation claim

Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe has dropped a defamation case against a French journalist and sports newspaper over doping claims.

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Thorpe was suing the daily sports newspaper L’Equipe, its publisher, and journalist Damien Ressiot, over an article published in March 2007.

The paper claimed Thorpe gave a urine sample in May 2006 which showed abnormal levels of testosterone and a luteinising hormone.

Thorpe’s solicitor Tony O’Reilly said despite being served with the proceedings several times, counsel for neither L’Equipe nor Mr Ressiot appeared in court.

“In these circumstances Ian has decided not to pursue the proceedings as he sees little point in obtaining a verdict in the absence of Mr Ressiot and the publisher of L’Equipe,” Mr O’Reilly said in a statement on Monday.

‘No evidence’ of drug use

In August 2007, the Australia Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), which went on to investigate the claims, cleared Thorpe, stating there was no evidence to support the allegation he used performance enhancing drugs.

FINA, swimming’s world governing body, made similar findings.

Having won five Olympic gold medals at the Sydney and Athens games, Thorpe is Australia’s most successful Olympian.

Mr O’Reilly said Thorpe brought about the proceedings to vindicate his reputation as a clean sportsman and to show the damage that can be done to the anti-doping fight if an athlete’s privacy is not respected during the routine drug testing process.

“Ian remains grateful for all the support that he received from Australians and people all over the world, as well as from the swimming fraternity and athletes from a number of other sports, who have let him know that they never doubted his integrity as an athlete.”

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Dalai Lama honoured with democracy medal

The Dalai Lama was bestowed Friday with a US award for his commitment to democracy, the latest honor for the Tibetan spiritual leader despite China’s angry protests over his White House welcome.

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One day after President Barack Obama met the exiled monk at the White House in defiance of Chinese warnings, the National Endowment for Democracy gave the Dalai Lama a medallion before a packed crowd at the Library of Congress.

The Endowment, which is funded by the US Congress, hailed the Dalai Lama for supporting a democratic government in exile and his willingness to even abolish a centuries-old spiritual position if Tibetans so choose.

“By demonstrating moral courage and self-assurance in the face of brute force and abusive insults, he has given hope against hope not just to his own people but also to oppressed people everywhere,” Endowment president Carl Gershman said before placing the Democracy Service Medal around the monk’s neck.

Dalai Lama ‘admires’ US

The Dalai Lama, who fled his Chinese-ruled homeland for India in 1959, voiced admiration for US and Indian democracy and said China’s authoritarian system was unsustainable.

“The Chinese Communist Party, I think, did many wrong things. But at the same time, they also made a lot of contribution for a stronger China,” he said.

The Dalai Lama pointed to the growing interest of many Chinese in getting rich. Calling himself a Marxist in his support for a strong social safety net, the Dalai Lama joked: “Sometimes I feel my brain is more red than those Chinese leaders.”

“Sometimes I express now the time has come for the Communist Party should retire with grace,” he said in English, laughing that Chinese leaders would be “furious” at his comments.

China protests

China earlier protested Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying the United States had “grossly violated basic norms of international relations” and summoning the US ambassador, Jon Huntsman.

“The US action seriously interfered in Chinese internal affairs, seriously hurt the feelings of China’s people and seriously harmed China-US relations,” foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the Dalai Lama’s meetings with Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were part of a longstanding US dialogue with the Tibetan leader.

“I think on this issue, obviously we just agree to disagree,” Crowley told reporters.

The International Campaign for Tibet, which works closely with the Dalai Lama, quoted witnesses as saying that residents in Tibet and historically Tibetan areas of China’s Sichuan province chanted prayers and set off firecrackers to celebrate the White House meeting, despite tight security.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to split China, although the exiled leader has repeatedly said he accepts Chinese rule.

In a nod to Chinese sensitivities, the Obama White House prohibited cameras from entering the meeting, which took place in the Map Room, not the seat of presidential power in the Oval Office.

But the White House later issued a statement voicing support for the Dalai Lama and his nonviolent quest for greater rights for Tibetans.

With Obama, the Dalai Lama has now met every sitting US president since George H.W. Bush in 1991.

Offering one tidbit from Thursday’s meeting, the Dalai Lama revealed that Obama gave him a memento from a much earlier interaction with a US president — a copy of a letter Franklin Roosevelt sent him in 1942.

Roosevelt mailed the Dalai Lama, who was then seven, the letter and a golden Rolex watch as a gesture to seek relations with the remote Himalayan land.

“At that time, my only interest is the gift of the watch, not the letter,” the Dalai Lama said with a laugh.

“I actually don’t know where that letter goes. Now after 68 years, just yesterday, President Obama gave me a copy of that letter.”

The monk frequently tells the story of the watch, saying that fiddling with it helped spur his lifelong interest in science.

In 2007, he carried the gold watch in his pocket when George W. Bush presented him with the Congressional Gold Medal, the only time a sitting US president has appeared with him in public.