Sydney supports Manning at Mardi Gras

Helen and Ian Rose preparing to protest in support of Manning at Mardi Gras tomorrow. Photo: George Gittoes



Sydney Activists will launch a Chelsea Manning float towards the front of world famous Sydney Mardi Gras this Saturday. Chelsea Manning is world famous for releasing the Iraq war logs to the world, revealing how the US military murdered innocent civilians in the Iraq war. The US government imprisoned Manning for whistle blowing. Born Bradley Manning, Chelsea is considered a hero for for exposing corruption and has been embraced by the LGBTQI community for being one of the most important, public and influential transsexual people on the planet.

Sydney-based activist group the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition (SAWC) believes Manning shouldn’t be imprisoned for blowing the whistle on war crimes by the US military. The float aims to raise public awareness of Chelsea Manning and the surrounding issues. Theatrics will be used to communicate the issues to the public. People will dressed as bankers holding chains around Uncle Sam, in order to demonstrate how the banks are believed to have major influence on the US government and its policies.

The parade begins on Saturday March 1st at 7pm. The parade proceeds from Elizabeth St along Oxford St before turning into Flinders Street and finally into the bus lane that runs parallel to Anzac Parade. Good viewing locations include the Albion Street Shell service station, the corner of Short and Flinders Streets, and Taylor Square. Public transport is one of the better options to get to the event.

Breaking news | February 28

I’m still President: Viktor Yanukovich. Photo: abolotnov/flickr



Morwell Mine Fire: Speculation Premier will announce evacuation of town
Residents from the Victorian town of Morwell may soon be evacuated due to the toxic smoke emanating from the Hazelwood Coal Mine.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine did not comment on speculation that the smoke-affected town could be partially evacuated. An announcement with health and fire officials is expected at 1pm (AEDT).

Residents have been trapped inside since the fire started on February 9 and have reported health issues including headaches, and trouble breathing.

Invisible particles known as PM2.5 have been found in the air and smoke, and can penetrate the deepest part of the lungs and respiratory system. The concentration of these particulates reached 280 micrograms per cubic metre in Morwell South on Thursday, more than 11 times the daily threshold.

An association between PM2.5 and lung cancer was established by the Department of Epidemiology at Rome’s regional health service, after the department studied more than 100,000 people in five European cities over a decade.

An increase of annual exposure to PM2.5 of just 5 milligrams per cubic metre means a 13 per cent increased risk of heart attack.

Former Navy Recruit Denied PTSD treatment by Department of Veterans Affairs after alleged rape
A former Defence recruit has been refused treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) despite the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce acknowledging he was raped at a Navy recruit school.

Aaron Frazer was a recruit at the Navy’s HMAS Cerberus recruit school outside of Melbourne in 2007 when he was raped by fellow recruits as ‘payback’ for getting his dormitory in trouble.

He was beaten and orally raped by two of his roommates, while four others cheered them on and filmed with their mobile phones.

After the assault, the military police deleted the video footage, and assured Mr Frazer there was nothing to worry about. He was not offered the chance to make a formal statement, and civilian police were not called.

The Defence Abuse Response Taskforce sent Mr Frazer a letter four years later acknowledging that he had been abused at HMAS Cerberus and that Defence had mismanaged his complaint. The letter explained that he was entitled to the maximum repatriation payment of $50,000, however Mr Frazer felt that this was ‘hush money’.
Two of the assailants were found guilty in a military prosecution but his claim for treatment has been rejected by the DVA by what they say is a lack of evidence that the incident occurred. They cited discrepancies in the different versions of what happened, and Frazer not completing his recruit training despite the assault occurring less than two weeks prior to the course finishing.

Ousted Ukraine leader Viktor Yanukovych looks to Russia as tensions in Crimea rise
Ousted Ukraine leader Viktor Yanukovych has appealed to Russia for protection, saying that his life is in danger.

Despite the appeal, Yanukovych claimed he is still the lawful president of Ukraine based on the fact that he was elected on the basis of free expression of the will of the Ukrainian citizens.

“I continue to consider myself the lawful head of the Ukrainian government, elected on the basis of the free expression of the will of Ukrainian citizens,” he said in a statement released to two Russian news agencies.

Yanukovych also warned that regions in the east and in Crimea, the largely Russian region of Ukraine, will “not accept the anarchy and outright lawlessness” that has gripped the country.

Check in: Wes Anderson’s new film

Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave, Saoirse Ronan as Agatha and Tony Revolori as Zero in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Photo: Facebook



Wes Anderson. Simply the name should be enough to for people to know who the man is.

For those who don’t, Wes Anderson is an American director and one of the most prominent filmmakers of our time, an individual with raw imagination and the genius to generate rare tapestries of film.

In 2014 Anderson will strike back again on the silver screen with another timeless film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. A drama-comedy, the film stars actors Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan, Adrian Brody and other actors who have previously worked alongside Anderson in past features.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is an adventure story: it tells of Gustave H (Ralph Finnes), an illustrious concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), the naïve lobby boy who becomes his trusted friend. It’s a delightful tale about a stolen renaissance painting and the ongoing fight for an enormous family fortune. Meanwhile the hotel becomes the abode of an array of compelling characters.

Critics cannot get enough of the film.

Nico Hines from The Daily Beast said: “This might just be Wes Anderson’s best film; it’s certainly his most thrilling.”

Jessica Kiang from The Playlist: “a glorious, mischievous sequence of pictorialist plays taking place in a world so perfectly contained it might as well be in a snowglobe. This trademark fetishistic detail makes it feel like it was somehow loved into being …”

Emma Morgan from Total Film: ”Wes Anderson’s eighth feature has a heft beneath its icing, heart behind its artifice. Check in, and you won’t want to leave.”
The Grand Budapest Hotel runs for 1 hr. 40 minutes, and opens on April 10.

Official website:

Seeya, Fergo

Blake Ferguson in action in 2012. Photo: reepy_au/flickr



Surprise, surprise. Blake Ferguson has found himself embroiled in media speculation yet again. Controversial figure Ferguson, has now been linked with a cross-code switch to rival sport Rugby Union, a move in which he feels will re-invent his hiccup-prone career.

Following the NRL’s decision to refuse the registering of his contract, Ferguson’s time is running out. After a string of off field misdemeanours, Ferguson landed himself in hot water through being convicted of indecent assault, finding himself charged with a two year good behaviour bond. His conviction, along with his alcohol related controversies (such as the infamous rooftop ‘selfie’ with fellow star Josh Dugan, picturing both drinking alcohol whilst they were ordered not to) represents why it was an easy decision for his dismissal from the Raiders and for the NRL to de-register him.

But will it prove to be a valid decision by the NRL? Although Ferguson has slapped die-hard fans in the face through many of his indiscretions, he is described as a formidable talent. Former NRL player and Ferguson’s mentor Anthony Mundine said: “Blake has the natural talent, the speed, the step, the fend, the strength, to cut it in any number of codes.” His move to Rugby Union could be the beginning of a domino effect of big name players trying their hand in another code. With Sam Burgess and Sonny Bill Williams already committing to Rugby, Ferguson could be the next stepping stone in the poaching of more Rugby League players.

Ferguson would be easily snapped up by rich French and Japanese clubs like Sonny Bill Williams before him, who switched codes to join French club Toulon. Toulon would be extremely keen on the origin star, with both countries looking to bolster their squads for the beginning of their seasons which start in a few months’ time. In what could potentially be a big headache for NRL CEO Dave Smith, Ferguson’s bargaining power in a cross-code switch could prove pivotal in the re-registering of his contract. NRL boss Smith could also be concerned about an exodus of players changing codes: he said he would feel “sad” if another high-profile player left the NRL.

So will Ferguson be a success in Rugby? He certainly has the attributes to become a fine Rugby player, displaying his talent in the back end of last season scoring 10 tries from 11 games. But as we have seen before with other code-hoppers such as Mark Gasnier (Rugby) and Karmichael Hunt (AFL) the transition is not always so simple. Gasnier, one of the finest centres in the NRL struggled with the transition and soon found himself back in the NRL, and less said about Hunt’s AFL career the better.

In what would be a huge risk for Ferguson, a move which would make or break his career, does provide some leverage to Smith in which if Ferguson fails, he would be justified with his decision to let him go. But if Ferguson makes a name for himself, it could be the persuasion that several players, such as high-profile player and huge prospect Andrew Fifita, need to make the switch.

Breaking news | February 25

Qantas will confirm on Thursday whether speculation about job cuts is correct. Photo: Graham Cook/flickr



Qantas job cuts

Qantas is still silent on cutting up to 5,000 jobs in an effort to restructure their finances. If the figure is correct it will be significantly more devastating than the previous reported figures of 1,000 job cuts that had been issued in a profit warning by the airline in December.

An announcement to be made on Thursday by Qantas will confirm whether or not the speculation on the job loss figures is correct and confirm rumour of a $360 million loss over the past half year. “We have said that we will be making some tough decisions in order to achieve $2 billion in cost savings over the next three years, which is a consequence of an unprecedented set of market conditions now facing Qantas.” Andrew McGinnes, spokesman for Qantas, told the ABC.

The job cuts come about as the airline seeks Government assistance, with the cuts being a way to demonstrate real reform and the ability to make tough decisions to maintain the company. Government assistance will likely come in the form of a debt guarantee but may possibly be the lifting of the foreign ownership restrictions that Qantas has been struggling with.
Health and education spending growth “slowed”: PM

Promises made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to avoid cuts to overall health and education budgets may fall through in the near future, reported SBS news. After addressing the Australian-Canada Economic Leadership Forum in Melbourne last night, Mr Abbott suggested that spending growth towards health and education needs to be slowed in order to balance the budget.

During the address the Prime Minister said: “We will keep our pre-election commitments to maintain health spending and school spending, but we must reduce the rate of spending growth in the longer term if debt is to be paid off and good schools and hospitals are to be sustainable.” He reiterated the Government’s plans to cut the carbon and mining taxes and further commit to infrastructure spending.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne moved quickly to confirm the PM’s statements, saying that no cuts to education spending have been flagged. “He said that the current growth in education and health expenditure was unsustainable and that is true,” Mr Pyne said. “Labor has been spending massively beyond our means for the last six years. He didn’t flag that there’d be any cuts to health and education.”

Director Harold Ramis dies

Actor and director Harold Ramis died today at the age of 69. Director of the iconic films Caddy Shack and Groundhog Day and star of the movie Ghostbusters, died from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves the swelling of the blood vessels.

Mr Ramis’ death stirred an outpouring of messages on the social media site Twitter. “No, no, not Harold Ramis. Worked for him years ago. He was the real deal. Growing up, his work changed my life. He will be missed,” wrote director Jon Favreau, his tweet one amongst many from stars such as Billy Crystal, Seth McFarlane and many more.

Harold Ramis leaves behind his wife, Erica, sons Julian and Daniel, daughter Violet and two grandchildren.

Violence in Venezuela

Anti-government protests continue in Venezuela’s capital city Caracas, with demonstrators raising barricades and setting fire to garbage in the streets. The violence has led to 13 deaths despite opposition leader Henrique Capriles calling for the public to rein in protests and make an effort to remain peaceful.

The Venezuelan government reported that 529 people have been charged over the unrest, with most given warnings but 45 held in custody. Authorities have further reported 150 injured.

Protesters demand that President Nicolas Maduro step down only one year into his term. The demonstrations began in February to protest food shortages, police repression and the economic crisis. Mr Capriles and other opposition figureheads are calling for imprisoned student protestors, along with protest leader Leonardo Lopez to be released.

On Sunday the President called for a national dialogue of all regional and opposition governors to discuss the protests, but no further action has been taken.

Q&A: Lime Cordiale’s Louis and Oli

Louis (L) and Oli Leimbach of Lime Cordiale. Photo: Laura-Mae Williams

Northern Beaches brothers, Oli and Louis Leimbach are on their rise to fame. With an upcoming tour of the U.S and various festival appearances, Lime Cordiale is working up a storm. Known for their chilled out personalities and unique beach pop music, it’s no doubt that everyone is keen for a new album, inspired by the Lime Cordiale boy’s international adventures. They spoke with LAURA-MAE WILLIAMS.
When & why did you guys form Lime Cordiale?
Oli: I had some bands in high school. In high school they just kinda form and drop off and change names and someone quits and everything just kind of tumbles downhill. Then, after high school we just started playing together, we were on a bit of a family holiday and we didn’t really have anything to do and we just started playing together. As you get older, as brothers, you kinda stop fighting and you work together a bit more.

What’s your favourite thing about being in a band?
Louis: Playing music.
Oli: (Laughs) Yeah but just how you meet so many people. There are just so many different people at every gig. It’s the easiest way of making friends, when you’re in Melbourne or just a different city. There are so many people there and you have a reason to say hi and you can kinda hang out and they can show you the cool places and the different cities. Just having a purpose when you’re travelling, I think, is one of the coolest things.

What’s been your craziest/favourite gig?
Oli: Early on we did one at Palm Beach, on a wharf and we kinda threw a party and built a stage on the wharf and about a thousand people rocked up. It went insane. It was just way too much.
Louis: This girl fell off the stairs and broke her head open. Then we had to get it shut down.

What’s been your biggest challenge as a band?
Oli: Louis broke his leg on a Wednesday, (and) we had a gig on the Friday in Melbourne. He broke it, spent a night in hospital and we had to put him in the car and drive about 20hrs, do the gig, and drive straight back. Louis couldn’t even get out of the car.
Louis: Broke it skateboarding. Really badly. That was probably the biggest challenge, for me! It was fine, I was so high on… medical little things.

You’re about to go and do a tour around the U.S. Where are you going?
Oli: We are going to go, Austin Texas because there’s a big festival called South by Southwest and that’s our main thing over there, we are playing five times at that festival, different showcases and things. It’s like a showcase sort of festival to show off bands. Then we will be going back to L.A and hopefully doing a bit of a tour, its being set up at the moment.

What are you looking forward to most over there?
Louis: Just to go surfing over there. Pretty keen to do that.
Oli: Just being somewhere different, it’s a bit freaky because we kind of just have to start again in a lot of ways, because our fan base that we have is here. Yeah, just travelling and seeing new things as well. It’s just a completely different world.

Will this tour inspire a new album for Lime Cordiale?
Louis: Yeah, I think so. Oli is writing one at the moment about L.A and he hasn’t even been there yet. He’s cheating.

Lime Cordiale’s Sleeping At Your Door

Breaking news | February 24

Protesters throw Molotov cocktails at troops in Kiev, January 19, 2014. Photo: Mstyslav Chernov/unframe


Ukraine government unrest

The Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych has fled and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has been freed from prison after anti-government protests ended the Putin-backed leaders reign.

The protests, which began two weeks ago, were against Yanukovych’s last-minute decision not to join the EU. In all 82 protestors have died. Tymoshenko said the protesters were “…. heroes. You are the best thing in Ukraine.”

Tymoshenko was jailed in 2010 on corruption charges after Yanukovych won the presidential elections.

Newly installed leader Oleksander Turchinov, an ally of Tymoshenko, is acting president until elections on May 25.
Sydney’s new liquor laws begin

Pubs and clubs in the CBD area and Kings Cross will enforce Sydney’s strict liquor laws starting today, in an attempt to calm the city’s nightlife party scene.

The NSW Government debated the law for months and at 12.01am (AEDT) Monday 24th February the laws came into action. The last serving of alcoholic drinks at 3am and the 1.30am lockout were tested early Monday morning. All take away alcohol stores will also close at 10pm.

According to Hospitality Minister George Souris the induction went smoothly while the real test will be this coming Saturday night, when the streets crammed with thousands of people celebrating Mardi Gras.

Mr Souris said he understood there were concerns that new lockouts would encourage late-night movements to suburbs on the outskirts of the city, but he insisted the system was flexible and boundaries would be adjusted if necessary. “I’m pretty sure most people will get the message and I just ask people to be more compliant generally in their nature,” Mr Souris said.

The Sydney entertainment district includes the CBD and Kings Cross, and consists of about 1,300 licensed premises. Some establishments are exempt from the new restrictions.
Israeli Forces kill US Prisoner

A convicted killer was executed in his prison compound by Israeli Special forces on Sunday. The defensive attack took place after the inmate got a hold of a prison guard’s weapon, shot three guards and barricaded himself inside the compound.

The dead man was identified as Samuel Sheinbin, who fled to Israel after murdering 19-year-old Alfred Enrique Tello Jrin the US state Maryland in 1997. Authorities said Sheinbein strangled Tello with a rope, hit him numerous times with a sharp object, dismembered his body then burned it. There was another teenager involved in the murder who was sent to a prison in Maryland and later commited sucide in the gaol.

What allowed Sheinhein access to Israel was under the law which prevented the extradition of Israeli citizens to foreign countries, Sheinhein’s father Saul was born in Israel which qualified him citizenship under Israel’s ‘Law of Return’.
Woman and child killed in Thai protests

Bomb blasts have killed a 5-year-old child and 40-year-old woman in central Bangkok early Sunday. Twenty eight others have also been injured.

The attacks by pro-government supporters occurred outside the Big C department store in Ratchaprasong, an area that has been occupied by protesters for weeks.

Civil unrest has plagued Thailand since PM Thaksin Shinawatra was deposed and his sister Yingluck installed as government leader in 2006. In all 17 people have died since the conflict began.

Gear Up for a Top Weekend

Daniel Ricciardo on the track in his Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2011. Photo: Nicolas Garcia/Wikimedia Commons


If you can’t get enough of high speeds, love the smell of smoke from tyres, crave the sound of a Formula One car or your heart skips a beat as 30 Porsche GT3s cross a black and white finish line, then BBC Top Gear Festival Sydney is the place you need to be.

Popular television personalities Jeremy Clarkson and James May, along with their famous stunt driver ‘The Stig’, have captured the hearts of Australian car enthusiasts by creating an annual festival in Sydney based on their popular television show, Top Gear. All the stunts and laughs we see on the highly entertaining show will be brought to life at Sydney Motorsport Park in Eastern Creek.

The festival will be held over two days, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th March. Both days will be filled with entertainment on and off the track. On the track festival-goers will see stunts, drifts and drags along with young Australian Daniel Ricciardo attempting take on the lap record in his Infiniti Red Bull Formula One car. Driver Mark Webber broke the record in 2013, and this year there are high hopes for Ricciardo. There will also be a Holden State of Origin car challenge – ball sport and motorsport.

The track will be set up in a way for to provide public access to all areas, as the action continues off the track with the celebration of legendary driver Ayton Senna, a family fun zone perfect for the kids, the Subaru WRX experience and more than 50 exhibitions to be explored around the track.

Pre-paid parking is available at the venue, which is approximately 45 minutes from the CBD or Sydney airport. Access to the track is also easy via public transport – Blacktown station is 10 minutes from Sydney Motorsport Park. There are still opportunities to book accommodation at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park or Novotel Parramatta but get in fast as there is only three weekends to go.

It is a perfect day to spend with your family, partner or friends who love engines. The BBC Top Gear Festival Sydney will leave ears ringing and hearts racing.

Yoko: Revolution never rests

Works by Yoko Ono at Sydney’s MCA.



Her vision inspired generations, her voice speaks when the fearful were silent, and it is her originality that has established Yoko Ono – Japanese-American artist and wife of the late John Lennon – as a legend in her own right.

This summer at Sydney’s Modern Contemporary Art Yoko’s exhibition War is over! (If you want it) is an intimate collection of all of her artworks, a documentation of her life and the way she has viewed the chaotic world since the revolutionary 1960s and 70s. The exhibition is a maze that maps her groundbreaking work from erotic sculptures to captivating installations, hand-written texts, short films and sound commentary. The public also has full access to participate in a collection of hands-on activities, repairing and arranging broken china, imprinting world maps with peace stamps and writing personal messages of love and peace to anyone in their life, placing the notes on the wall or hanging cards from the wishing tree.

Lennon once famously described Yoko as “the world’s most famous unknown artist”, even though at the time she was already an established artist. At her Sydney exhibition opening Yoko said: “John protected me and he did love my work, and there weren’t very [many] people then who loved my work.

“And he probably felt he had to take care of me.”

Now 81 years old, Yoko still travels extensively around the world, creating new platforms for herself as an individual and an artist. She summarises her philosophy on life simply: “Think peace, act peace, spread peace, Sydney.”

The exhibition will run until February 23 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 140 George Street, Circular Quay. Tickets are $15 for students and $20 for adults, kids are free.

Burgess goes home to Bath

Could Burgess be the answer to England’s fragile rugby backline? Photo: Mortonstalker/Wikimedia Commons



In what is the biggest rugby league story of the off-season, Rabbitohs sensation Sam Burgess has signed with English rugby union club Bath. Burgess, one of the biggest names in rugby league at the moment, has made the big money switch (to a salary worth more than $900,000) in which he describes as “an opportunity I had to pursue”. With the 2015 World Cup approaching, Burgess is being foreseen as the answer to Englands’ fragile backline, to which he can add some serious firepower.

Bath and England Coach Stuart Lancaster has made no secret that he would like to use Burgess at inside centre, where like the ever-successful Sonny Bill Williams, his huge frame and quality ball skills have made him a very exciting prospect.

But it prompts the question, will Burgess be able to adapt to the nuances of rugby in time for the cut-throat nature of the global tournament? Queensland Reds coach and former assistant coach at Bath Richard Graham doesn’t think so. “I think the transition will be a tough one for him. I think probably the timing will be against him,” Graham said.

 All the signs of a quality athlete with the potential to make the most of the switch are there, but the pressure is on Burgess to succeed in the World Cup when he will have only had one season in the game. By comparison, Sonny Bill Williams had two seasons in France, and one in the Super 15.

Whichever way you look at it, this is a very exciting time for English rugby fans, because as we have seen in the NRL Burgess is a serious talent who could be the X-Factor in Englands World Cup hopes.

The question of Burgess’ adaptability to rugby has led us to look at others who have made the switch, and which of them succeeded, and which failed. The athletes in our ‘Tops’ and ‘Flops’ include:


  • Wendell SailorSailor was one of the most dominant wingers in the NRL, having a large frame and speed to match. He played rugby league for his state and country before he made the switch to rugby in a big money deal with the Queensland Reds, soon finding himself playing for the Wallabies. Having enjoyed a successful but also controversial time in Australian rugby, he made the switch back to the NRL in 2008, where he finished his career with the Dragons and former mentor coach Wayne Bennet in 2009. 
  • Lote Tuqiri: Beginning his career in 1999, Tuqiri formed a deadly wing partnership with Wendell Sailor at the Broncos. Tuqiri enjoyed lots of success at the Broncos, winning a premiership, playing for his state, and also representing Australia and Fiji internationally. In 2003 he made the switch to rugby, and his speed combined with strength soon found him a place in Australia’s 2003 World Cup squad. Tuqiri was also selected in the 2007 World Cup squad after being a consistently stand-out performer for the Waratahs. After his contract was terminated in 2009, he has found himself back playing in the NRL, where he has had a tough time with injury but has now signed a one-year deal with the rampaging South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Other successful players include: Mat Rodgers, Brad Thorn and Sonny Bill Williams.

  • Willie MasonMason, possibly the greatest forward in the NRL at his peak, was an amazing talent for the Bulldogs in 2004 where he won a premiership and the prestigious Clive Churchill Medal. Off-field dramas and big money deals saw him move clubs often, from the Roosters to the Cowboys and then overseas to the English Super League. In April 2011 he made his switch to rugby union where he was seen as the next Sonny Bill Williams, but after an unsuccessful stint for French club Toulon, fans described him as the biggest flop in the club’s history. Mason is now back in the NRL playing for the Newcastle Knights.