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Matildas host Brazil in two-game Sydney series



The Matildas have only won twice in 12 matches under Tony Gustavsson, but the Swedish mentor isn’t too concerned.

Tony Gustavsson has defended his ordinary record since taking charge of the Matildas, saying his only concern was to perform well in major tournaments.

Gustavsson coaches the Matildas for a 13th time on Saturday night when the Australians host Brazil at Sydney’s CommBank Stadium.

Under the Swede, the Matildas have won just twice in 12 games, and have conceded a whopping 30 goals.

But Gustavsson pointed to his team’s fourth-placed finish at this year’s Tokyo Olympics as evidence that when it mattered, the Matildas performed.

His next target is success at next year’s Asian Cup, which starts in January in India, with the long-term goal being a triumphant 2023 World Cup on home soil.

“Yes, we want to win every game we play, but I’m not going to change my mindset in terms of putting this team through these preparations that I think (are) very important to then win something (at the) Asian Cup,” Gustavsson said.

“And if we don’t perform there, I’m the first one to take that hit. I’ll be OK with that.”

Gustavsson was also happy to take a “hit” for the Matildas’ defensive woes.

“Yes, we’ve conceded a lot of goals, but if you should criticise someone for that, it’s me, because I’m putting the players through a process here where it’s all about preparation,” he said.

The former USA women’s team assistant coach said that 15 years ago he might have had a different attitude and played for a 1-0 win rather than try to entertain.

“That’s not what this team is about. That’s not what these fans want to see,” Gustavsson said.

“We want to be aggressive and score a lot of goals. We’ve showed we can score a lot of goals but (must) defend better without being conservative.”

Gustavsson said the Matildas needed to cope with the pressure and scrutiny currently on them following Lisa De Vanna’s allegations of assault, bullying, harassment and grooming in Australian women’s football.

“What I’m trying to do is explain to players and staff is, if you genuinely want to be the team that can lift that (World Cup) trophy in ’23, we need to get used to performing under pressure, and look at pressure as a privilege, because that means there’s a lot of interest in our team … that’s a good thing,” he said.

“I hope this isn’t interpreted as me being disrespectful to the other important things that’s talked about now, meaning all the events in women’s football, but there’s so many things to be excited about here.”

Originally published as Results in friendly matches aren’t a priority for Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson




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Alleged anti-lockdown organiser Tony Pecora makes bold claims in court



An alleged anti-lockdown organiser has suffered a courtroom setback despite claiming he was ‘almost a lawyer’.

Alleged anti-lockdown organiser Tony Pecora claims he’s “almost a lawyer” after a year of study but failed to change his bail conditions.

The 44-year-old is facing several charges including counts of inciting others to breach public health restrictions by organising anti-lockdown protest in September 2020.

He appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday and attempted to vary his bail conditions.

Mr Pecora, a former candidate for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, told the court he was “pleading innocent” to all charges and had been on bail for the past year following his arrest.

“I’ve almost become a lawyer in that 12 months with all the studying I’m doing,” Mr Pecora said.

He told the court the bail conditions he faced were “onerous and unreasonable”, and argued they were “impossible” to abide by.

Prosecutor Helen Spowart said there were no issues changing the Middle Park man’s bail so he was no longer subject to a curfew, could assist caring for his father and move house.

But the changes couldn’t be made because his wife – who secured a surety for his release – wasn’t present, Magistrate Matthew White explained.

“The problem you’ve got is the surety is not here so we can’t progress it,” he said.

Mr Pecora also claimed during the hearing he had “enormous evidence of treason” against a local MP and said Premier Daniel Andrews’ actions under the state’s emergency powers were “fraudulent”.

“I’m telling everyone and nobody wants to hear it,” Mr Pecora said.

He is also facing new charges of breaching bail conditions including not to use, create or participate in the use of social media and refrain from using the “Arkwell Tripelligo” alias between October 2020 and July 2021.

Police allege Mr Pecora used a Facebook account with the name to organise the rallies in September 2020 during the state’s second wave of coronavirus outbreaks.

He’s also alleged to have contravened a bail condition of using or participating in social media, complying with the chief health officer’s directions and not attending public gatherings in August, according to charge sheets.

The magistrate adjourned the hearing despite Mr Pecora’s complaints he wanted it dealt with today.

The case will return to court in December.

Originally published as Alleged Melbourne anti-lockdown protest plotter Tony Pecora’s court fail




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Clive Palmer: UAP leader recorded dropping c-bomb referring to Health Minister



Mining billionaire Clive Palmer may have accidentally dropped an expletive while referring to Health Minister Greg Hunt in a bizarre vaccine rant.

Clive Palmer appears to have made an awkward slip of the tongue – dropping a c-bomb when referring to the Federal Health Minister during a bizarre vaccine rant.

The mining billionaire and chairman of the United Australian Party (UAP) made the comments on Friday on the Gold Coast while claiming his party had reached a membership milestone.

In an audio recording, Mr Palmer claimed Covid-19 vaccinations did not cut down hospitalisations.

Mr Palmer claimed the vaccines were resulting in “a lot of Australian money” being handed over to the US.

“Scott Morrison’s government has ordered over 380 million doses of the vaccine and Greg C**t’s announcing today there’s another 90 million boosters coming,” Mr Palmer says.

The Courier Mail reports Mr Palmer also doubled down on his unvaccinated status, bizarrely comparing the nation’s jab push to a “Nazi holocaust”.

He claimed UAP’s membership base had grown to more than 70,000 – beating the two major parties and The Greens.

Earlier this year, Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles was captured on camera making a similar slip-up, appearing to drop a c-bomb while referring to Scott Morrison.

Mr Miles claimed it was a result of a stutter while discussing the PM’s fundraisers in town.

Originally published as Clive Palmer’s slip of the tongue ‘c-bomb’ during bizarre vaccine rant




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Wallabies to meet Japan at Oita Stadium



The Wallabies are chasing five successive wins for the first time in six years in Saturday’s battle with Japan.

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper is wary of a Japan ambush on Saturday as the Australians chase five successive wins for the first time since 2015.

Hooper said there was never any chance the Wallabies would rest key players for the Test at Oita Stadium despite potentially tougher clashes against Scotland, England and Wales next month in the United Kingdom.

“There’s no joke – the Japanese are a solid team with threats across the board,” Hooper said.

“They have been a force that’s been growing quite quickly, certainly from 2015 onwards, and they obviously had a great showing in 2019 (at the World Cup) and a few really solid performances this year.”

“They play a high-tempo game. They’ll look to run things a lot. They’ve got some really good athletes.

“It will be a real challenge to nullify that speed and to take them to some places that they’re uncomfortable with.”

Hooper is glad the Wallabies are out of their comfort zone in chasing a fifth-straight victory.

Their run of four consecutive wins in the Rugby Championship came on home soil.

“Now we’re out of our own backyard,” the star flanker said.

“We’re going to go and play in some of the great stadiums around the world.

“These four games present us with a chance not only to build our game and see how we can grow and develop but also play some different styles of rugby that we haven’t been exposed to for quite a while.

“Put ourselves up against that and playing away from home is so critical in Test footy.”

It’s particularly “critical” for the younger members of Australia’s squad as preparations step up for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

“A lot of our younger players haven’t had that experience before, so certainly two years out from a World Cup up in that part of the world, it’s a really good experience for our group,” Hooper said.

The Wallabies side will include in-form flyhalf Quade Cooper, whose place in the touring squad to the UK is yet to be confirmed despite strong indications from coach Dave Rennie on Thursday that the 33-year-old former Queensland Reds star would tour despite his commitments with Japanese club Kintetsu Liners.

“Quade’s been fantastic. He’s been a great addition to the team on and off the park,” Hooper said of Cooper, who was returned to the Wallabies fold this year after an absence dating back to 2017.

“He’s be very giving of his time to younger players and the team in general.

“On the field that experience counts for a fair bit at Test level.

“He’s definitely left a great mark and a good impression on the team.”

Originally published as In-form Wallabies won’t take impressive Japan lightly




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Biden says US would defend Taiwan against China invasion



Map showing Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), and the area most frequently enchroached on by China’s military jets, according to the island’s ministry of defense announcements via Twitter.

The United States will defend Taiwan if China attacks it, President Joe Biden said, prompting a warning from Beijing on Friday that its determination to take back the democratic island should not be underestimated.

Authoritarian China regards self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize the island, by force if needed.

At a CNN town hall, Biden was asked whether the US would come to Taiwan’s defence if China invaded. “Yes,” he responded. “We have a commitment to that.”

The policy is designed to deter a Chinese invasion and also discourage Taiwan from formally declaring independence — something Beijing regards as a red line.

“The US government has demonstrated, through actual actions, their rock solid support for Taiwan,” Presidential Office spokesperson Xavier Chang said in a statement.

“China has no room for compromise on issues involving its core interests,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing.

Biden made a similar pledge in August during an interview with ABC, insisting that the US would always defend key allies, including Taiwan, despite the withdrawal from Afghanistan in the face of the victorious Taliban.

The White House subsequently told reporters on both occasions that US policy on Taiwan “has not changed.”

“I suspect Biden was not trying to announce any change. So it was either loose language, or perhaps a slightly harder tone, deliberately adopted because of the way Beijing has increased the tempo of its military harassment of Taiwan recently,” he told AFP. 

China has ramped up economic, diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who views Taiwan as already sovereign and not part of “one China.”

According to an AFP tally, more than 800 flights have been made into the zone since September last year — 170 just this month. 

At Thursday’s live town hall, Biden was also asked by an audience member whether the United States would be able to keep up with China’s rapid military development. 

“Don’t worry about whether… they’re going to be more powerful,” he said. “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we have the most powerful military in the history of the world.”

He referred to his longtime relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and repeated his position that he does not want “to start a new Cold War with China.”

Biden’s comments also come in the wake of a Financial Times report that China has tested a state-of-the-art hypersonic missile with nuclear capacity that flew around the planet before landing, albeit not on target. 

Originally published as Biden says US would defend Taiwan against China invasion




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Melbourne lockdown ends: Victoria celebrates as Covid-19 restrictions ease



Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has revealed how he spent his first day of freedom as Melbourne finally emerged from lockdown.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was out for brunch with a mothers’ group on Friday and says he has plans for golf this weekend as the state emerges from lockdown.

Coronavirus restrictions were eased from midnight to the relief of people who have spent a total of 262 cumulative days in lockdown since the pandemic hit early last year.

The premier shared a photo on social media of himself with a group of mothers and babies at an outdoor venue.

“Catching up with the mothers’ group on Zoom just isn’t the same,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Today Teddy, Naomi, Monty and their mums finally met up – in person. And we thought that called for a celebration.”

As for the weekend, Mr Andrews, a member at the exclusive Cheltenham golf club Kingston Heath, told reporters on Friday he had booked a round this weekend.

Mr Andrews said Victorians should be proud of what they’d achieved over the course of the pandemic and asked people to be kind to others.

“As my kids say – there’s a big vibe today. You can feel the optimism. You can sense the pride in what’s been achieved. And after everything it’s taken to get here, we absolutely deserve to feel that way,” he wrote on Twitter.

He said “not everyone would be ready to throw open their front door” and some people could be feeling anxious about the end of lockdown.

“And the process of reopening won’t be without flaws either, we all know that. It will take a lot of patience and understanding,” he said.

Many Melbourne residents did take the opportunity to go out, with some celebrating long into the night.

Cheers and applause echoed through the CBD as the clock struck midnight, with car horns sounding and residents clapping from balconies and shouting “freedom”.

Angel Music Bar opened at midnight and partygoers celebrated the end of Victoria’s sixth lockdown until 6am.

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp went out to celebrate and said she did not want to waste a single moment seeing the city reopen in the early hours on Friday.

“I was there. I was part of that crowd cheering. Horns were honking. One gentleman was walking his dog, I asked him why. He said ‘because I can’, of course,” she told the Today show.

“That sense of joy and celebration, it’s been absolutely fantastic.

“Of course city occupancy is down to dire levels, so while this is fantastic, we still have a long way to go.

“It is time to celebrate, but we have to stay focused on the main game – that is the 80 per cent (vaccination) threshold and we are calling on the Victorian government to give as much certainty and time for preparation.

“We also really want to see those city workers back in city workplaces and that means that we would like masks to come off in the office once we hit the 80 per cent target.”

Hospitality venues across Melbourne were on Thursday setting up tables and chairs as they prepared to welcome back patrons.

Melburnians were also rushing to book haircut appointments as salons reopened on Friday.

Bearded Man Prahran owner Josh said bookings were “filling up”.

“You just feel a bit disappointed for customers who can’t get in and just have to give them the bad news … but it’s pretty exciting,” he said.

At the 80 per cent double-dose rate, Victorians will be allowed greater freedoms such as statewide travel, indoor dining, school returns and shops opening.

Mr Andrews said the timing of reopenings depended on the pace at which Victorians were being vaccinated.

­Department of Health projections show the state would be able to jump from 70 to 80 per cent double-dosed in less than a week if ­appointments for second jabs were brought forward.

Originally published as Melbourne celebrates end to Victoria’s sixth lockdown, 262 days of Covid-19 shutdown measures




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Confusion reigns over Queen Elizabeth II’s health after hospital stay



Images of Windsor Castle after the queen returned there after having “attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations,” according to Buckingham Palace.

Questions mounted Friday about the health of 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth II after she had tests and spent a night in hospital, despite royal officials saying she was resting at home.

Buckingham Palace had said on Wednesday morning that she pulled out of a planned engagement in Northern Ireland and had been advised to rest on medical advice.

She returned from King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London to her Windsor Castle home west of London and was said to be “in good spirits”.

She stayed overnight for “practical reasons”, said to be because it was too late to make the 26-mile (42-kilometre) trip back to Windsor.

The development follows several busy weeks during which the monarch undertook more than a dozen public engagements, including hosting a reception Tuesday for global business leaders at Windsor Castle.

Royals author Robert Hardman told the BBC there would be “a mild degree of irritation at the palace this morning” that news of the queen’s overnight hospital stay had become public.

However, veteran BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said royal officials “have not been giving us a complete, reasonable picture of what has been occurring”.

“We must hope that we can rely on what the palace is now telling us,” he added, calling assurances that the queen was in good spirits “a handy phrase that the palace dusts off at moments such as this”.

“Royal sources had been keen to encourage the impression that she had just overdone it but may struggle to convince the public now,” he noted.

Queen Elizabeth II is head of state in the UK and 15 other realms around the world, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The palace said she was back at her desk on Thursday afternoon undertaking “light duties”.

Her late husband, Prince Philip, died in April just a few weeks before his 100th birthday, months after spending four weeks in hospital receiving treatment for a pre-existing heart condition.

Last week, she was seen for the first time at a major public event using a walking stick, but royal officials said it was not linked to any specific health condition.

“She hates people making a fuss of her in general but particularly to do with health,” added Hardman.

jj/phz/lc

Originally published as Confusion reigns over Queen Elizabeth II’s health after hospital stay




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Prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin kills woman on set: police



US actor Alec Baldwin, seen here in New York on October 07, 2021, has been interviewed by detectives over the deadly shooting

US actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director on a film set in New Mexico, US law enforcement said Friday.

“No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set.”

Originally published as Prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin kills woman on set: police




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WA cop who fatally shot young Aboriginal mother found not guilty of murder



A policeman who fatally shot a young Aboriginal mother in the middle of a suburban street has been found not guilty of murder.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this article contains images of a person who has died.

A policeman who fatally shot a young Aboriginal mother in the middle of a suburban street has been found not guilty of murder.

JC, whose full name is not used for cultural reasons, was killed on September 17, 2019 in the Geraldton suburb of Rangeway by an officer whose identity has been suppressed by the Supreme Court of Western Australia, where he had been on trial since October 5.

The court heard the 29-year-old woman was felled by a single shot to the abdomen, dying in hospital less than two hours after police were first called and told someone was walking around brandishing a knife.

Within moments, eight police officers swarmed to the scene in three marked vehicles with sirens blaring, while the accused was in the passenger seat of an unmarked police car.

Five of the officers remained in their vehicles, one got out to approach JC unarmed – believing he could talk her down – the accused ran out of his car, drawing his gun, and another officer also ran towards her pointing an unactivated Taser.

Just 33 seconds after one of the first two officers to arrive at the scene radioed in to say the armed offender was JC, she asked for an ambulance, saying “one shot fired”.

Prosecutor Amanda Forrester told the jury in her opening address that JC still had the knife in one hand as well as a small pair of scissors in the other when she – according to various accounts – either moved her arms, stepped toward police or didn’t move at all.

Defence counsel Linda Black argued JC was close enough to rush forward and stab her client or the unarmed officer, and while her feet did not move, she held the knife up, brandishing it and “needed to be taken down”.

Ms Black argued her client was “not some trigger happy constable” but an officer who followed his training, wanted to protect his colleague and was “brave enough to risk his own career, his own life”.

The court heard JC had been repeatedly told during the stand-off to put down the knife and was warned she would be Tasered if she did not.

JC had been struggling with life after prison, was greatly distressed she did not have custody of her young son, and had both mental health and substance abuse issues involving methylamphetamine, cannabis and alcohol.

She had threatened to take her own life on multiple occasions, was aggressive towards others and foreshadowed she would die on the day she was fatally shot, the court heard.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of the shooting, captured from a home 65m away.

Emotional supporters gathered outside court after the verdict, expressing their disappointment.

One of them was JC’s foster mother.

“Six years of age he was when he found out his mother died,” she said gesturing to JC’s young son, who stood alongside her with tears streaming down his face.

“Don’t ever ask for a welfare check on your family when they are in a mental health state.”

One woman told reporters: “I’m so tired … I just want white Australia to understand, to get more of our history and understand why our people are so sad and sorry”.

A man, who identified himself as an Aboriginal elder, said there was “no justice” for Indigenous deaths in custody.

“We will mount another big rally for this. Mark my words,” he said, referring to the chaos that erupted on Geraldton streets after news of JC’s death emerged.

Ms Black was heckled by JC’s supporters as she left court, flanked by police.

“Very sadly, a young lady lost her life and he (the officer) has had no opportunity to be able to express his sorrow for that – he would like to do that today, to say how sad he is,” she told reporters.

“My client was a serving officer who did his job and he did it to the best of his ability.”

As a small number of JC’s supporters gathered outside Geraldton courthouse, WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said he was aware that “emotions are running high” and urged people to remain calm and respect the jury’s decision.

He said the “tragedy” marked one of the “most difficult chapters in history” between Aboriginal people in WA and the police force.

“My thoughts are with all people involved in this case. I’m sorry that JC lost her life and I’ll once again express my condolences to her family,” he told reporters.

“Frankly, there are no winners in this case. This case demonstrates that each of us in the community are subject to the same judicial process.”

He said JC’s death would be examined at a coronial inquest.

It is believed to be the first time a police officer was charged with murder in the line of duty in almost 100 years in WA.

The officer was stood down while awaiting trial.

Originally published as Policeman who fatally shot young Aboriginal mother found not guilty of murder




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Swedish teen rapper killed in Stockholm shooting



Award-winning Swedish rapper Einar, who topped the country’s charts, was shot and killed in Stockholm, police and media said Friday as police hunted for suspects.

Another lesser-known Swedish rapper, 23-year-old Rozh Shamal, was also killed in a 2019 gangland shooting.

Originally published as Swedish teen rapper killed in Stockholm shooting




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