Adelaide shake the Fever in Super Netball

Adelaide Thunderbirds coach Dan Ryan hailed his side’s fearless fightback to mow down West Coast Fever 56-51 in their season-opening Super Netball clash at Priceline Stadium.

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After trailing by seven goals at three-quarter-time and still 46-50 in arrears with 7:59 on the clock, the Thunderbirds dominated late in Sunday’s match, with eight unanswered goals amid a 10-1 overall flurry.

“In the last quarter we just encouraged them to be fearless and go for it,” Ryan said.

“With that lack of hesitation and basic structure in defence things just fell into gear.

“They were very unified and very connected.

“It looked like we were dead and buried, seven goals down in the third term.

“All guts in the end to get across the line.”

With Kate Beveridge proving a handful in the shooting circle early, the visitors had their noses in front following a topsy-turvy, fast-paced first half.

The Fever led 16-14 at quarter-time and 29-27 after a goal-for-goal second stanza. They got the better of Adelaide again in the third period with skipper Nat Medhurst taking control and Courtney Bruce shining in defence.

The home side kept Beveridge largely under wraps after halftime when the hosts substituted Jamaican Malysha Kelly in for Fiona Themann at goal defence.

The injection of debutant Gia Abernethy sparked the Thunderbirds in the middle as the Fever lost their grip on the contest.

West Coast coach Stacey Marinkovich accused her charges of playing too much like individuals in the fourth term, veering away from the team ethos that served them well for the first three quarters.

“You’ve got to be able to keep to your game plan and we probably detoured away from that and put ourselves under more pressure than we needed to be,” she said.

“We started to try and do everything individually and didn’t stay to our structures.

“It’s certainly a valuable lesson.”

Trump insists White House running ‘so smoothly’

Donald Trump employed a loud and muscular delivery – one which won over millions of voters on the campaign trail last year – to assure Americans he is fulfilling his promises to shrink government, rebuild the military, and repeal and replace health care reforms enacted by predecessor Barack Obama.

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“This will be change for the ages,” the new president told several thousand supporters in an airport hangar in Melbourne, a sun-bleached city on Florida’s Space Coast.

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But Trump was completing his first month in office with his administration under a cloud back in Washington, where lawmakers pledge to further investigate his possible pre-election ties to Russia, his national security advisor was forced to resign in disgrace, and a cabinet nominee withdrew amid controversy.

“The White House is running so smoothly, so smoothly,” Trump stressed, before going on an extended rant about the US media.

“I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news,” Trump said. 

“The dishonest media, which has published one false story after another, with no sources… they just don’t want to report the truth,” he said.

“They’ve become a big part of the problem. They are part of the corrupt system.”

Trump, who relishes campaigning perhaps like no other US politician, arrived to a thunderous cheer when Air Force One, the presidential jet, rolled up to the hangar at Orlando Melbourne International Airport. 

Aside from the fact that the billionaire businessman is now leader of the free world, the feel was extremely similar to that of a Trump campaign event from last year — from the speakers, to the recorded music, to the president’s brash, largely impromptu delivery.

“We’re going to start producing jobs like you’ve never seen before,” Trump said, highlighting how his pro-growth agenda has already led some US firms to commit to domestic investments.

He reiterated his pledge to crack down on terrorism, saying he has asked Defense Secretary James Mattis to draft a “plan to totally destroy ISIS,” the Islamic State extremist group.

“I’ve ordered decisive action to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country,” he said, drawing loud cheers.

At one point Trump broke security protocol by inviting a supporter to hop a barrier and join him onstage.

“I wouldn’t say that the Secret Service was thrilled with that,” he said.

 

Alcohol, drugs and lesbianism: Arab Israeli film faces backlash

The culture clash in “Bar Bahar” starts off when Nur, a veiled and conservative Muslim, moves into a flat with two other Arab Israeli women and sees their drug-taking, party-going lives.

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But for its director, the real shock of the film, which opened last month in Israel, has been the controversy it has whipped up, even death threats on social media.

Maysaloun Hamoud, herself an Arab, always hoped her first feature film would hit hard.

In its two hours, the Galilee-born filmmaker, 35, tackles almost all the taboos of Arab Israeli society: drugs, alcohol, homosexuality.

Salma is rejected by her Christian family for being a lesbian, while Leila leaves her boyfriend when she discovers he is more conservative than he claims.

But above all, there is the story of Nur, a native of the conservative city of Umm al-Fahm – a stronghold of the Islamic Movement, close to the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Conservative, and initially shocked by the attitude of her roommates, Nur and the other two become friends and allies.

She ultimately rebels against her family and traditions by leaving her religious fiancé Wissam after he rapes her, a scene shown on screen.

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The film has already been released in the United States, under the title “In Between”, and it won three prizes at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain last year.

US magazine Variety called it a “compelling” drama and The Hollywood Reporter trumpeted it as a “sparkling, taboo-breaking first feature”.

The film company has not released ticket sale numbers but Hamoud said there had been a lot of feedback, mostly positive but some less so.

The response from Umm al-Fahm has been particularly sharp.

The municipality issued a statement condemning a film as being “without the slightest element of truth” and barring it from being screened there. 

They insisted, however, that they were happy to support “meaningful” art, but did not reply to a request for an interview.

Hamoud as well as her actresses have received death threats.

“Those who speak ill of Umm al-Fahm dig their own grave,” said one. “You need a bullet in the head and another in the heart,” a second read, Hamoud told AFP.

“For me as an artist, a director and a screenwriter who is a part of this society, it is my right to tackle any issue I feel is important enough for me to talk about,” Hamoud said in a cafe near where she lives in Jaffa, a predominantly Arab district of Tel Aviv.

“For the audience, if they want to see it they are welcome and I will be very happy. But if you don’t want to, don’t go,” she added.

Her face is framed by short black hair and she has tattooed arms, including one with the title of the film in the colours of the Palestinian flag.

Her film, she said, brings to the screen issues usually “hidden” among Arab Israelis, such as lustful, youthful evenings where cannabis smoke billows among dancers.

Bar Bahar, literally meaning “land and sea” in Arabic, translates as “neither here, nor there” in Hebrew.

For its director it aims to be “the voice of a generation” of young Arab Israelis who feel trapped between cultures.

Making up around 18 percent of Israel’s population, the 1.4 million Arab Israelis are descended from Palestinians who remained on their land after Israel was established in 1948.

Many identify as Palestinian but feel torn between identities – saying they experience discrimination and racism living and working in major Israeli cities.

“I’m not exaggerating, every scene is realistic,” Hammoud insisted.

Shaden Kanboura stars as Nour in the film ‘Bar Bahar.’Supplied

‘Contradictions’

Hamoud chose to set the film in Tel Aviv, regarded the most tolerant and liberal city in Israel, to make a point that even there racism against Arabs is prevalent.

She wanted to show the girls’ “otherness” in the city.

“They discover that no matter how far they go from their towns and the traditions they came from, they are shocked that the place where they are (Tel Aviv) doesn’t accept them.”

Hamoud wants to make films that help society “face its contradictions in order to move forward”.

“No one should feel good after the movie, neither Israelis nor Palestinians in this society.”

White Night youth gangs tracked by police

Police say they knew for weeks of plans by two youth gangs to cause havoc at Melbourne’s White Night event.

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Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane told reporters on Sunday officers had intelligence the groups would meet in the city and cause trouble well before the night.

In turn, police had formulated a “well planned” response to any threat of violence.

“A lot of (social media) sites aren’t locked so police have become adept at (monitoring them),” Mr Leane said.

Officers used pepper spray to break up a rowdy confrontation between two youth groups at Federation Square about 1am on Sunday.

Mr Leane said those involved were aged between 14 and 19 and had been discussing the face-off for weeks including via social media.

“As far as we can see it’s the United Nations of groups. They merge but they take a dislike to each other and for some reason the groups were deciding last night they’d have a go.”

Hundreds of police swarmed the area, including members of the mounted branch and public response order unit, standing between the opposing groups who “looked like they were going to flare up,” according to Mr Leane.

Asked if he thought the trouble was linked to the Apex gang which disrupted last year’s Moomba parade, he said, “I’m not sure if Apex even still exists”.

Instead, he described the potential participants as “networked” offenders.

More than 20 arrests were made over the course of the night, including at Footscray train station where police found youths in possession of a can of OC spray.

Other weapons including knives and knuckle dusters were also seized.

About 500, 000 people attended the annual White Night event and authorities say they were pleased overall with behaviour on the night.

WA Labor’s McGowan says he’s ready to lead

West Australian Labor leader Mark McGowan has officially launched the party’s state election campaign with the mantra of putting jobs for locals first.

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Mr McGowan received rapturous applause from Labor stalwarts including former federal leader Kim Beazley as he entered Perth Arena with AC/DC’s “TNT” blaring.

There was strong enthusiasm for an announcement to freeze TAFE fees and Mr McGowan also revealed a Labor government would introduce a four per cent stamp duty surcharge for all purchases of residential property by foreigners.

He reiterated the party’s vehement opposition to the privatisation of Western Power and Fremantle Port, and lashed the Liberal party for blowing the proceeds of the mining boom.

“This is not the time for platitudes about an economy in transition,” he said.

“And it’s not thing for an arrogant and out of touch government that refuses to acknowledge the issues.

“Can Western Australia afford another four years of Colin Barnett? I don’t believe it can.”

Mr McGowan also took a swipe at federal Liberals for saying a Labor government in WA could not count on $1.2 billion in Commonwealth funding for the contentious Perth Freight Link (PFL) project being reallocated, the latest warning coming from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull himself.

“It will be Western Australians who will decide where our funding is directed to and the circumstances in which it is spent,” Mr McGowan said.

“I’m not going to be bullied or intimidated by a politician from Canberra. I never have and I never will.

“The federal Liberals and Nationals rip us off when it comes to our GST share – I’m not going to let them rip us off on infrastructure.”

The opposition has vowed to tear up contracts for the Perth Freight Link project, which Infrastructure Australia has ranked among the nation’s most strategically important, and immediately revegetate bushland and wetlands that have been cleared to make way for it.

The Liberals have been scathing of the promise, saying it sends a dangerous message that contracts with the state may not be honoured.

They have also spruiked the job-creating benefits of PFL, which is set to be the state’s first toll road and provide a direct link to Fremantle Port, although the route has not yet been finalised, prompting opponents to label it “the road to nowhere”.

Gunaratne blasts Sri Lanka to T20 win

Allrounder Asela Gunaratne has blasted Sri Lanka to a stunning two-wicket T20 win over Australia in Geelong.

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He hit the match-winning boundary off the last ball on Sunday night to cap his outstanding 84no from 46 balls, as Sri Lanka snatched the win from the home team’s grasp.

Sri Lanka have an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the series ahead of Wednesday’s last game at Adelaide Oval.

Australia are yet to beat Sri Lanka in a home T20 after five games.

Gunaratne’s innings featured six fours and five sixes, including four sixes and three fours in the tumultuous last two overs.

Chasing 173, Sri Lanka slumped to 5-40 and with two overs left, they were still off the pace at 7-138.

But Gunaratne blasted three sixes and a four off Moises Henriques, meaning they needed 14 off the last over.

After Nuwan Kalesekara was dismissed off the first ball, Gunaratne belted a four and a six off Andrew Tye.

As was the case in game one, it came down to the last ball of the match, with Sri Lanka needing two to win.

Gunaratne smashed another boundary, sparking wild scenes of jubilation among the Sri Lankans as they reached 8-176.

He also top-scored with 52 in Friday night’s win.

Earlier, Australia’s under-strength attack had torn through the Sri Lankan top order as paceman Jhye Richardson impressed on debut and Andrew Tye was on a hat-trick.

But the first full international cricket match in Geelong attracted an underwhelming crowd of 13,537, with unseasonably poor weather undoubtedly hurting the attendance.

Richardson is one of Australian T20 debutants along with 36-year-old Michael Klinger, who followed up his 38 in game one with 43 on Sunday.

Henriques paced the Australian innings with an unbeaten 56, his first T20 international half century, while Kulasekara ended the innings with three wickets in four balls.

Gunaratne also took the key wicket of Ben Dunk, who had blasted 32 runs from 14 balls.

Australia made a surprise omission by leaving out legspinner Adam Zampa, who impressed on Friday night.

Australian captain Aaron Finch said Gunaratne’s epic knock was one of the better T20 innings he had seen.

“That was definitely up there … a guy who can hit it 360 (degrees) is such a dangerous player and so hard to defend (against),” he said.

“You have to have four fielders in the circle, so there’s always somewhere exposed and if you have skills like that, it’s hard to defend against.”

Gunaratne, a quietly-spoken character, said with a smile it was the best he had batted.

“I was planning to finish the match at all costs and I was quite happy I could do that,” he said through a translator.

“It certainly wasn’t easy, but you had to come up with some plan and (tonight), it worked.”

As Gunaratne spoke, several hundred Sri Lankan fans could be heard celebrating raucously outside the ground.

Several thousand expatriate fans have made the Sri Lankans feel like it was a home match

“The fact we won the series was the greatest satisfaction … it couldn’t have been better,” Gunaratne said.

“It was like playing at home away from home and the support (we’ve had) is a great strength.

“That made it a little easier.”

US plan speeds asylum-seeker deportations

The US Department of Homeland Security has prepared new guidance for immigration agents aimed at speeding up deportations by denying asylum claims earlier in the process.

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The new guidelines, contained in a draft memo dated February 17 but not yet sent to field offices, directs agents to only pass applicants who have a good chance of ultimately getting asylum, but does not give specific criteria for establishing credible fear of persecution if sent home.

The guidance instructs asylum officers to “elicit all relevant information” in determining whether an applicant has “credible fear” of persecution if returned home, the first obstacle faced by migrants on the US-Mexico border requesting asylum.

Three sources familiar with the drafting of the guidance said the goal of the new instructions is to raise the bar on initial screening in order to ease strain on the courts and reduce the number of immigrants allowed to stay in the US, often for years, while they await a hearing.

The administration’s plan is to leave wide discretion to asylum officers by allowing them to determine which applications have a “significant possibility” of being approved by an immigration court, the sources said.

The guidance was first reported and posted on the internet by McClatchy news organisation.

In 2015, just 18 per cent of asylum applicants whose cases were ruled on by immigration judges were granted asylum, according to the Justice Department.

Applicants from countries with a high rate of political persecution have a higher chance of winning their asylum cases.

A tougher approach to asylum seekers would be an element of President Donald Trump’s promise to crack down on immigration and tighten border security, a cornerstone of his election campaign and a top priority of his first month in office.

The guidelines are contained in two draft memos signed by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and currently under review by the White House, according to two people familiar with them.

The memos also outlined plans for greatly expanding the categories of people that immigration agents target for deportation, and gives them wide discretion in deciding who to deport.

Previously, recent arrivals and convicted criminals were the prime targets. The new plan would include migrants who have been charged but not convicted of crimes, and would also apply to illegal immigrants who have been in the country for many years.

The memos also call for quickly hiring 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as well as 5000 more border patrol agents.

‘What has he been smoking?’: Trump refers to non-existent Sweden terror incident

US President Donald Trump has tweeted that he was referring to a Fox News report when he appeared to refer to Sweden as the site of a terror incident – the latest of several instances where his administration appeared to reference non-existent attacks.

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My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2017

President Trump was addressing a campaign-style rally in Florida when he launched into a list of places that have been targeted by terrorists.

“You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible,” he said, provoking mockery on social media.

Trump’s speech was aimed at defending his order last month that blocked refugees and travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The order has been suspended by a federal appeals court, and Trump vowed to introduce a new order this week as a means of protecting Americans at home.

He went on to name Brussels, Nice and Paris – European cities that have been struck by deadly terror attacks.

Sweden’s embassy in Washington has asked for an explanation, the foreign ministry in Stockholm said Sunday.

@fuadmb About #swedenincident #lastnightinsweden unclear to us what President Trump was referring to,have asked US officials for explanation

— Embassy of Sweden US (@SwedeninUSA) February 19, 2017

For Donald Trump’s supporters, the social media and reporting frenzy is yet more evidence of what they see as pervasive media bias against President Trump.

“We all make mistakes or misspeak on some facts,” said Michelle Mesi from Texas.

“But let’s face it, those misspeaks don’t change the fact that terror is a reality and we are owed due diligence to keep America safe.” she said.

Massachusetts Trump voter Joe Hession said the media has been obsessed over the “smallest dumb stuff.”

“They will nit-pick anything he does or says,” Mr Hession said.

Users on Twitter, Trump’s favorite communication platform, cracked jokes about the apparent miscue using the hashtags #lastnightinSweden and #SwedenIncident.

I’m safe! In fact, we’re all safe here in Sweden.#lastnightinsweden @POTUS @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/tdZnX0O0Qn

— Kenneth Bodin (@KennethBodin) February 19, 2017

Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt asked: “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound.”

Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound. 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/XWgw8Fz7tj

— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) February 19, 2017

Gunnar Hokmark, a Swedish member of the European Parliament, retweeted a post that said “#lastnightinSweden my son dropped his hotdog in the campfire. So sad!”

Hokmark added his own comment: “How could he know?”

Numerous internet wags responded with Ikea-themed tweets. Some posted photos of the impossible-to-understand instructions for assembling Ikea furniture, calling it “Secret Plans for the #SwedenIncident.”

It wasn’t a pretty sight #lastnightinsweden #DonaldTrump #jesuisikea pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/SMa8jc8K7G

— Dimitri Verbelen (@DimitriVerbelen) February 19, 2017’Nothing has happened’

Posts flooded into @sweden, the country’s official Twitter account which is run by a different Swede each week.

This week’s curator, Emma, who describes herself as a school librarian and mother, said the account had received 800 mentions in four hours.

“No. Nothing has happened here in Sweden. There has not (been) any terrorist attacks here. At all. The main news right now is about Melfest,” she said, referring to the competition to pick the performer who will represent Sweden at the Eurovision singing contest.

Top Trump aides in his month-old administration have faced criticism and ridicule after speaking publicly about massacres that never took place.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway — who famously coined the term “alternative facts” — referred to a “Bowling Green massacre” during an interview.

She later tweeted that she meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists” — referring to two Iraqi men who were indicted in 2011 for trying to send money and weapons to Al-Qaeda, and using improvised explosive devices against US soldiers in Iraq.

And White House spokesman Sean Spicer made three separate references in one week to an attack in Atlanta.

He later said he meant to say Orlando, the Florida city where an American of Afghan origin gunned down 49 people at a gay nightclub last year.

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Australia and UAE to deepen defence ties

Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will explore closer defence ties after a meeting between Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

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Mr Pyne and Sheikh Mohammed, who is also Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, met on the sidelines of the biennial International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The two agreed to consider a 10-year defence plan that could include more than SA1 billion in sales to the UAE, Mr Pyne told Reuters.

“What the Crown Prince is talking about is a more mature long-term relationship built around security and procurement,” he said.

Australia has military personnel stationed in the UAE, taking part in the US-led campaign against Islamic State.

A final agreement has yet to be reached but could include a transfer of knowledge from Australian to UAE companies.

“They are looking for genuine partners, not just foreign military sales, and that suits Australia’s attitude extremely well,” Mr Pyne said.

Sales could include everything from ammunition to large items such as “high-speed support vessels”, he said.

“We have very significant capabilities, particularly around coastal protection and surveillance, which I think we should be sharing with our Middle Eastern partners.”

Australian companies could finalise hundreds of millions of dollars in defence sales to the UAE at IDEX this week, Mr Pyne added.

The UAE, a federation of seven emirates on the Arabian Peninsula, has invested heavily in its domestic defence manufacturing capabilities through international partnerships.

It is also a close US ally and a global trade, transport and tourism hub. The development of its defence industries has been led by Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s main petroleum-exporting emirate, to boost the non-oil economy.

“I think potential here for defence procurement partnerships as well as security partnerships is very significant,” Mr Pyne said, calling the UAE one of Australia’s “closest friends in the Arab world”.

The UAE is part of the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition fighting in Yemen against the Iran-allied Houthi movement in support of the country’s internationally recognised government.

It has also taken part in the US-led effort against Islamic State.

Warriors galvanised by new captain RTS

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck gallops up and down the Warriors training paddock like a little kid at the best of times, so just imagine what he’s like with the captaincy on his shoulders.

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“Now he does that twice,” hooker Issac Luke said.

“He’s actually gotten more excited.”

The new Warriors skipper led his side out for the first time in last week’s trial loss to Melbourne, and will do so again on Sunday against Gold Coast.

Seeking a captain who led by example, boss Stephen Kearney gave Tuivasa-Sheck the role a fortnight ago despite having played just seven times for the club.

But he has also surrounded the 23-year-old ex-Rooster with older heads in the changeroom for support, one of whom is vice-captain Simon Mannering.

“It’s exciting for the club and Roger, to have such an enthusiastic and respected player at the club having that role,” Mannering said.

“You get a lot of energy from him and the way he leads.”

A former Warriors captain himself, the 30-year-old stalwart knows better than most the challenges of the role.

He empathised with ex-captain Ryan Hoffman, demoted from the role, but said Tuivasa-Sheck had brought nothing but positivity to the table so far.

“All of us have to support him as best as we can,” Mannering said.

Initially tentative to take the job , Tuivasa-Sheck sounded out a number of players before accepting Kearney’s offer, including prop Jacob Lillyman.

Lillyman encouraged his teammate to embrace the challenge, saying the responsibility would help his development as a player.

If he needed help, the Kiwi could just bounce ideas off his teammates.

“A great appointment, especially with the big picture in mind,” Lillyman said.

“He wouldn’t have been everyone’s first choice but you’ve got to look at what he does on the training field, the way he prepares himself.

“He’s such a great example to everyone.”