Fraser apologises for ‘racist’ comments

Australian sporting icon Dawn Fraser has apologised “unreservedly” for offending Nick Kyrgios and his family with comments that they had described as nasty and racist.

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Fraser faced a storm of criticism on Tuesday after suggesting Kyrgios and fellow tennis star Bernard Tomic should set a better example or go back to where their parents came from.

She later issued a statement apologising.

“I want to unreservedly apologise for any comments that I made this morning which may have caused offence to my fellow Australians including Nick and his family,” she said.

The Olympic swimming great had earlier told a breakfast television show she was disgusted by Kyrgios’ behaviour and alleged “tanking” in his fourth-round Wimbledon loss to Richard Gasquet.

Kyrgios was booed on court after he appeared to deliberately fail to return serves during the third game of the second set.

When asked on live TV if it was a case of having too much money and fame at such an early age and lacking humility, the 77-year-old agreed and lumped suspended Davis Cup star Tomic in with Kyrgios.

“They should be setting a better example for the younger generation of this great country of ours,” Fraser told the Nine Network.

“If they don’t like it, go back to where their fathers or their parents came from.

“We don’t need them here in this country if they act like that.”

Kyrgios is the son of a Greek-born father and Malaysian-born mother but was born in Canberra.

Tomic is German-born with a Croatian father and Bosnian mother and their family migrated to the Gold Coast when Tomic was three.

The 20-year-old Kyrgios, who denied he tanked, responded via social media with a post linking to Fraser’s tirade on Facebook.

“Throwing a racket, brat. Debating the rules, disrespectful. Frustrated when competing, spoilt. Showing emotion, arrogant,” he wrote.

“Blatant racist, Australian legend.”

His mother Nill added her thoughts on Twitter.

“I have no comments on Dawn Frasers nasty racist attack… but she is out of line. #unaustralianbehaviour,” she posted.

Kyrgios’ brother Christos said he was “embarrassed for Australia as a whole” because of Fraser’s comments.

“It’s just disgusting that someone of that calibre and has that sort of exposure in the media can come out and say something like that,” he told the ABC.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane joined the wave of criticism against Fraser, telling the National Press Club on Tuesday: “Contrary to what the likes of Dawn Fraser might say, most Australians do not tell migrants and their children to go back to where they came from.”

The four-time Olympic gold medallist said the comments that went to air were part of a “larger, un-broadcasted interview”.

“However this does not condone what was said,” she added.

“My intended message, which was not delivered as articulately as it could have been, was on a purely sporting level rather than meant as an attack on Nick’s ethnicity.

“Australians have a rich sporting heritage made up of individuals from a variety of different countries of origin.

“Nick’s representing Australia and I want to see him representing Australian tennis in the best possible light.”

Christos later rejected Fraser’s apology, adding that her comments were undeniably racist.

“Look, the apology means nothing to me,” he told Network Ten’s The Project.

“Nick’s behaviour on court can be construed many different ways from different people, you know, some people might think it’s acceptable, some people may not, some people may understand it, some people may not but that is black and white racist.”

Sydney man diagnosed with mad cow variant

A Sydney man has reportedly become the “one in one million” to be diagnosed with a variant of mad cow disease.

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A friend of Frank Burton told the Ten Network the 63-year-old is in isolation at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and fighting for his life.

Mr Burton has reportedly been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which belongs to a group of diseases that also includes mad cow’s disease.

However, unlike mad cow’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob does not come from contaminated meat.

“It’s just bizarre … it’s just terrifying,” Mr Burton’s friend Peter Kogoy told the network.

“He can’t dress himself, he can’t feed himself and is in need of 24/7 care.”

Doctors have no idea how Mr Burton, a former Sydney Swans chief financial officer, contracted the disease, Mr Kogoy said.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the disease is a rare fatal brain disorder that affects one person in every one million a year.

Symptoms include failing memory, lack of co-ordination and 90 per cent of patients die within one year.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease cannot be transmitted through the air or by touching people but can be spread through “exposure to brain tissue and spinal cord fluid”, the institute states.

A spokesperson for Sydney Local Health District today confirmed to SBS that there was a patient diagnosed with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) who was being treated at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

“The patient’s condition poses no risk of infection,” the spokesperson said.

“The patient’s family have confirmed that the patient is in a serious condition and have asked for their privacy to be respected.”

A factsheet on CJD can be found on the NSW Ministry of Health website here.

Gill Hicks visits London bombings station

Australian Gill Hicks has laid flowers at the London Underground station where rescuers rushed to save her life after she lost her legs to a terrorist’s bomb.

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As the British capital marked the 10th anniversary of the July 7, 2005 bombings, Ms Hicks on Tuesday walked on her prosthetic limbs into Russell Square station to pay tribute to the 52 innocent people who died that day.

The 46-year-old, who has become a tireless campaigner against violent extremism, said the anniversary was a day of deep and mixed emotions.

“I’m feeling a lot of grief for those who didn’t come out alive and feeling very fortunate that I survived,” she told AAP outside the bustling station.

Extra police were stationed there on Tuesday, exactly a decade after bombs ripped through three Underground trains and a double-decker bus in central London.

Ms Hicks, who now lives in Adelaide, said she always returns to the station when she visits London.

“My spiritual connection to this place is very, very strong,” she said.

“It’s a lovely station. It’s where my life was saved, so I can’t hold any negative sense towards it.

“Everyone did so much for me that day and that happened here. It’s a special place.”

Ms Hicks, who nearly died in the bombings, said she was living proof of the brilliance of humanity in which a whole team of rescuers and hospital workers never gave up on her and others who survived what has become known as 7/7.

On Monday, Ms Hicks reconnected with one of her rescuers, tearfully hugging Police Constable Andy Maxwell who helped stretcher her out from the bombed train to an ambulance.

“These people are like family to me, that’s how special they are,” she said of her rescuers.

On Tuesday, Ms Hicks was also to attend a 7/7 memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral and another service at the Hyde Park memorial to those who died.

Confusion over ABC ban for ministers

Malcolm Turnbull has not ruled out appearing on Q&A despite the revelation the government leadership team imposed an appearance ban on the show two weeks ago.

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The communications minister said it will “depend on the circumstances” whether he will keep his scheduled appearance next Monday.

“Time will tell – stay tuned,” he told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

Confusion has reigned over the government boycott of the show, after it emerged the ban was agreed by the leadership team two weeks ago.

That is despite Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce – who is part of the team – insisting he only found out about the ban on Sunday, following a directive from the prime minister not to appear on Monday’s show.

Nationals leader Warren Truss told reporters in Darwin on Tuesday the ban had been imposed by the group on June 25, the last parliamentary sitting day.

Mr Turnbull is not part of that team.

Mr Truss said the decision had been that “we wouldn’t appear on Q&A until serious action was taken by the ABC to ensure the program behaves in a responsible way”.

The ABC had not shown any repentance over the decision to allow convicted criminal Zaky Mallah to ask a question from the live audience two weeks ago, he said.

For the boycott to be lifted, the ABC would have to prove it did not have an intrinsic bias either within certain programs or across the entire organisation, Mr Truss said.

But he did not offer a time frame for when that could occur, saying only that Q&A would have to demonstrate that it was fair.

“That they would have a balance in their audience, a balance in their panels and, for that matter, the subject matter chosen for these particular issues would not essentially be catering to one sector of the audience.”

Mr Truss did not say whether there would be sanctions for non-compliant ministers – as Mr Turnbull ponders whether to show up.

In his speech on Tuesday, the communications minister took a swipe at the ABC for its risky move to allow Mallah to appear on the show.

He said the media have a powerful role in countering extremist views, and warned against the “immense” damage sensationalist reporting could do.

“As the sentencing judge noted when Mr Mallah was convicted in 2004, providing such coverage to his views runs the risk of spreading divisive and discriminatory views,” Mr Turnbull said.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said it would be a “total humiliation” if Mr Turnbull did not appear on the program.

“He should either go on Q&A next week or curl up in a corner,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

Veteran broadcaster Ray Martin, who has been appointed to conduct an independent review of the program, said the boycott was “silly”.

“What Malcolm Turnbull does next week … I suspect he’d still like the top job and I suspect he won’t come,” Martin told the Seven Network.

An Essential poll published on Tuesday found 22 per cent of voters believed the ABC was biased towards the left, while 36 per cent said it had no bias and 40 per cent had no opinion.

Do animals feel pain like we do?

Andrea Nolan, Edinburgh Napier University

The science of suffering is well documented in the book of the same name by Patrick Wall.

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We know that animals certainly feel physical pain, but what is less clear is whether this emotional suffering that we feel can be said to be true of animals. And if it is, how we go about measuring it.

As a subjective emotion, pain can be experienced even in the absence of physical tissue damage, and the level of feeling can be modified by other emotions including fear, memory and stress. Pain also has different dimensions – it is often described in terms of intensity but it also has “character”, for example the pain of a pin-prick is very different from that of a toothache, a slipped disc or labour pain. Nearly all of us have experienced pain in our lives, but for each person, the experience is uniquely individual.

To understand or appreciate others’ pain we mostly rely on what they report. But there are many who either cannot communicate their pain verbally, babies for example, or effectively, like those with dementia or learning disabilities. In these situations, others must use a range of factors to judge the presence of pain and its impact on the individual.

Pain is not all bad – it serves a protective function, to keep us away from further danger, to help us heal, for example by stopping us from putting weight on a sprained ankle. But if it isn’t managed effectively it can have a major negative impact on our lives inducing fear, anger, anxiety or depression – all emotions which may in turn exacerbate it. And chronic pain is a major concern to millions of individuals and to our societies around the world.

Pain in animals

The nature of pain is perhaps even more complex in animals. How pain is sensed and the physical processes behind this are remarkably similar and well conserved across mammals and humans. There are also many similarities in pain behaviours across the species, for example they may stop socialising with people and/or other animals, they may eat less, they may vocalise more and their heart rate may rise. The capacity of animals to suffer as sentient creatures is well established and enshrined in law in many countries, however we don’t understand well how they actually experience pain.

Some aspects of the experience and expression of pain are not likely to be the same as in humans. First, animals cannot verbally communicate their pain. Dogs may yelp and you may notice behaviour change but what about your pet rabbit, cat, tortoise or horse? Animals rely on human observers to recognise pain and to evaluate its severity and impact. Without the ability to understand soothing words that explain that following surgery to repair a bone fracture, their pain will be managed (hopefully) and will subside, animals may also suffer more when in pain than we do.

The debate around animals’ capacity to experience pain and suffer raged in the 20th century, but as we developed a greater understanding of pain, and studied its impact on the aspects of animal life that we could measure, we veterinary surgeons, along with many behavioural and animal scientists, recognised the significant impact of untreated pain, and we now believe this experience causes them to suffer.

For example, we know that animals and indeed birds with clinical signs of pain (limping) will choose to eat food containing pain-killing drugs (analgesics) over untreated food, and by measures of behaviour, they will improve.

Similarly many studies in a range of domestic animals have indicated that animals who have had surgery but not had adequate pain relief demonstrate behaviours reflective of pain which are alleviated when they are treated with analgesics such as morphine.

We also know that it is not just our dogs and cats that can suffer pain – there is an equally strong evidence base for the presence and negative impact of pain in sheep, cattle, pigs and horses among other species. But recognising pain in these different species is part of the complexity associated with animal pain. Managing it in animals that we rear for food and those that we keep as companions is equally challenging.

Behavioural disturbances have long been recognised as potential indicators of the presence of pain in animals. However it is important to recognise that each species manifests its own sometimes unique pain-related behaviours or behavioural disturbances in different ways, often rooted in the evolutionary process, so prey species, for example, are less likely to “advertise” an increased vulnerability to predators. Dogs may become aggressive, or quiet, or may stop socialising with “their” humans and other dogs. Sheep, on the other hand, may appear largely the same when casually observed.

Some expressions of pain however may be conserved. A recent paper suggested commonality in some features of facial expression during acute pain experiences in several animal species and humans.

These findings and much other work are being incorporated into tools to evaluate animal pain, because in the words of Lord Kelvin, the great Glaswegian scientist behind the Kelvin temperature scale, said: “When you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in number … you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be”.

So in order to treat and manage pain effectively we must measure it.

And there is a huge demand for these tools. The Glasgow Composite Pain Scale, a simple tool to measure acute pain in dogs and first published in 2007, has been translated into six languages. It is used in veterinary practices to measure pain to treat it effectively. It has also been used to evaluate the effectiveness of new analgesic drugs that are being developed by animal health companies. Tools to measure the impact of chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis, on the quality of life of dogs are now available and are a significant advance in managing chronic conditions.

There is now a global effort to raise awareness of pain in animals. Recently the World Small Animal Veterinary Association launched the Global Pain Council and published a treatise for vets and animal keepers worldwide to promote pain recognition, measurement and treatment. Dogs may be man’s best friend, but for all those who work with, care for and enjoy the company of animals, understanding how their pain feels is essential to improving the quality of their lives.

Andrea Nolan is a member of the World Small Animal Global Pain Council (a group of individuals who wrote the pain treatise) and has had past funding from Pfizer Animal Health (now Zoetis) to study pain in animals. I am providing consultancy support to Newmetrica (a company mentioned in the article), through a Scottish Enterprise SMART award

Opposition to intensify to NSW mine

Opposition to a massive open-cut coal mine in NSW’s Liverpool Plains is expected to intensify after federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt gave the project conditional approval.

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Chinese state-owned company Shenhua has been granted approval for the $1 billion Watermark mine near Gunnedah, under 18 conditions the government says are among the strictest in Australia’s history.

Shenhua welcomed the decision for conditional approval, and said it will begin the next phase of meeting the strict operating conditions required by the state and federal governments.

Local opponents say they are devastated by the approval because of the potential threat to farming.

“Agriculture has come out as a big loser to coal in this decision,” Lock the Gate Alliance spokeswoman Carmel Flint told AAP.

She said the mine will threaten sorghum and legume production in the region, which acts as a food bowl for NSW.

“It’s not going to be fully rehabilitated; it’s going to leave a massive open pit void of over a hundred hectares which will draw in groundwater and lead to increased salinity,” Ms Flint said.

“It’s got a permanent impact on the water resources and the productive capacity of the plains.

“The community isn’t going to give up. It’s too important to just let this one go.”

Mr Hunt has put strict conditions on the mine, including putting the black soil plains off limits to mining, while the project area is restricted to the ridge country around Mt Watermark. Shenhua must also complete water and biodiversity management plans before any mining starts.

“There will be no impact on the availability of water for agriculture,” Mr Hunt said.

Another condition includes the power to stop work and stop mining if there are any effects on agricultural water supply, and if that occurs the mine must immediately provide an alternative water supply to farmers.

The NSW Farmers Association said it was outrageous to approve the mine on the same day the government launched its agricultural white paper.

The approval document shows it was signed off on Saturday, July 4.

Association president Fiona Simson said an area the size of 4000 football fields will be disturbed.

She said it was completely at odds with comments by Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier in the week that the government would not allow an extractive industry to go ahead where it would threaten the long-term viability of the farm sector.

“This notion is completely at odds with an open-cut coal mine being built in some of our best food producing land that sits over the top of some of our most important agricultural water resources,” Ms Simson said.

The Greens accused the government of putting overseas mining interests before local farmers and the climate, and accused local federal member and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce of failing to protect the Liverpool Plains.

Comment has been sought from Mr Joyce.

The principal solicitor at Environmental Defenders Office NSW, Sue Higginson, said the NSW government’s approval for the mine in January is subject to proceedings in the Land and Environment Court.

Serbian war crime accused extradited

A Serbian war crimes suspect known as “Captain Dragan” is believed to be the first accused war criminal extradited by Australia.

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Dragan Vasiljkovic, an Australian citizen also known as Daniel Snedden, was surrendered to Croatia on Wednesday, the federal attorney-general’s department said in a statement.

Vasiljkovic is wanted in Croatia to face prosecution for three war crimes offences allegedly committed during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

It is alleged he ordered the killing of prisoners of war and led an assault on a village where civilians were killed during the 1990s Balkan war.

The Serbian-born Vasiljkovic has previously denied accusations he killed Croatians as a paramilitary commander, known as Captain Dragan, with the Krajina Serbs between 1991 and 1995.

He was provisionally arrested in January 2006 and has tried to fight extradition 13 times.

He ran out of legal options in May after being refused an appeal to the High Court.

Vasiljkovic’s lawyer Dan Mori was unaware on Wednesday that his client had been extradited, with a spokeswoman telling AAP the government did not inform him of his client’s movement.

His Croatian lawyer, Darko Stanich, expected to meet his client on Thursday following the transfer from Sydney to Zagreb.

“The fact is that he is the first Australian citizen to be extradited to another country, for now, without final judgment,” Mr Stanich told SBS radio.

He said Vasiljkovic was entitled to be seen as innocent until proven guilty in a court.

The department would not comment further, saying criminal proceedings against Vasiljkovic were a matter for Croatian authorities.

We can tackle rugby world’s best: Samoa

Samoa believe they are on the verge of dining at world rugby’s top table after nearly claiming the All Blacks’ scalp in Apia.

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Disappointment mixed with delight in the home team’s dressing room after their brave 25-16 loss.

They were satisfied to have rattled the world champions, closing within six points in a helter-skelter final quarter.

But there was regret they couldn’t push on to achieve what would have been one of sport’s great upsets – in front of their rugby-starved home crowd.

Coach Stephen Betham believes the bone-crunching performance wasn’t their best work either, sending a warning to other major nations.

“We came here not just to be a stat. We came here to compete,” Betham said.

“If we stick together like we did today, we can compete with any of the top five teams in the world.

“Now it’s all about staying focused, staying composed and getting some consistency into what we do.”

Boosted by the availability of most of their premier Europe-based players, Samoa based their performance around physicality.

Flanker Alofoti Faosiliva became an instant national hero with his late try, which Betham admitted sent the coaching staff “through the roof”.

The forward pack as a whole stood toe-to-toe with their vastly experienced rivals, aside from scrum time.

The home backs struggled for penetration but their rush defence and big tackles made life miserable for the frustrated tourists.

It could be an effective formula for Samoa when they play World Cup pool games against South Africa, Scotland, Japan and the United States later this year.

The clash with Scotland in Newcastle on October 10 is already looming as a potential decider for second place behind the Springboks, if other results fall as expected.

Betham says there is plenty to focus on before the World Cup, starting with the Pacific Nations Cup tournament beginning next week in North America.

They will take additional confidence into the six-nation event.

“If there’s any team you need to gauge yourself against before heading to the World Cup, it’s the No.1 team in the world,” he said.

“That’s exactly what we did today by fronting up.

Thai paralysed after collision with Aussie

A member of the defence section at the Australian embassy in Thailand who allegedly crashed his motorbike into a Thai man and left him permanently paralysed has offered just $400 in compensation, according to the injured man’s family.

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In the June 14 accident, an Australian warrant officer riding an unregistered superbike collided with 62-year-old Suchart Rotkaew, according to an official police report into the incident.

The police report, seen by AAP, said the collision occurred in central Bangkok when the superbike struck Mr Suchart’s bicycle.

Both parties were injured and unable to make statements. They were taken to hospital, the police report says.

The warrant officer cited the Australian embassy in Bangkok as his address in a claim for diplomatic immunity attached to the report.

Mr Suchart’s son, Veerachon Rotkaew, told AAP his father would never be able to work again.

“The doctor said he had a brain haemorrhage,” and had surgery to the left side of his brain.

“(His left) body, hands, feet, he can’t move at all. He can only move on his right side of the body,” Mr Veerachon said.

Mr Suchart worked as a security guard and owned a small garage.

Mr Veerachon said there had been little contact with the warrant officer since the accident.

“Fees for helping, the travelling expenses, they gave us 10,000 baht ($A400) for that,” he said.

The family will have to rely on Thai social security to care for Mr Suchart. They had hoped funds would be available from insurance payments, but the Thai police report says the Australian’s bike was unregistered, leaving in doubt any insurance claims.

A longstanding restriction on Australian military personnel in Thailand riding motorcycles was recently lifted despite Thailand’s high record of motorbike accidents.

A Defence Department spokesperson said in an email Australian Defence Force members working at overseas posts must adhere to the local road rules.

“Defence generally does not place limitations on personnel operating any type of motor vehicle overseas, provided they meet host-nation licensing and other regulatory requirements for the vehicle they are operating,” the spokesperson said.

Two killed when F-16 collides with small plane over South Carolina

The collision between the fighter jet and a Cessna C-150 occurred at around 11 a.

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m. near Moncks Corner, north of Charleston, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

The two people aboard the Cessna were both killed, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board said. The agency is investigating the crash.

Authorities are still searching for their bodies, and have not released their identities, Bill Salisbury, the Berkeley County coroner, told a news conference.

The small plane carrying the local residents had left the Berkeley County airport a few minutes before the crash and was probably going to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Salisbury said.

The pilot of the military aircraft, identified as Major Aaron Johnson, ejected safely and was taken for a health evaluation, according to a statement from Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, where the F-16 was based.

Johnson is expected to make a speedy return to the base and could resume flying next week, Colonel Stephen F. Jost said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Authorities have located the military plane and parts of the Cessna, Salisbury said.

“Our thoughts are with the friends and family of anyone aboard the civilian aircraft,” Shaw Air Force Base said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“From what I understand from a witness, the military plane struck the other, small aircraft broadside,” Salisbury said.

Debris from the small plane had been found scattered over a wide area, including in a rice field, local authorities said. There were no reports of injuries from any debris.

At least 20 agencies were involved in the response.

Johnson was flying a routine training mission from the air base to Charleston and back, Jost said.

“Our pilots are well-trained to fly the approaches in and out of there, and all of the facts at this point indicate that the pilot was talking to air traffic control as they normally do when the accident occurred,” Jost said. “Everything beyond that is subject to speculation.”