Monthly Archives: July 2019

McNamee aims to make Boomers, Opals Australia’s No. 1 teams

Paul McNamee (centre) has moved his professional interest to Australian basketball.Paul McNamee sees what other people don’t.
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When he took over the Australian Open in 1995 he saw Australia’s biggest sporting event even though its public profile wasmuch lower in the pecking order.

Under his stewardship the tournament became the “grand slam of the Asia-Pacific”and it is now a $200 million business.

McNamee sees similar unrealised potential in the Australian Boomers, the Opals and the WNBL, so he has taken on a new role with Basketball Australia where he has been contracted to drive “commercial growth”.

His main focuses will be to push up the commercial and supporter appeal of the national teams and the WNBL, which still produces the bulk of the Opals squad.

The Boomers are being driven into the public consciousness by Australia’s NBA stars led by Ben Simmons and the new international schedule thatsees them play FIBA World Cup qualifiers every three months.

But the Opals are spending too long out of the public eye, although 2018 promises to be a busy year with this month’s WNBL finals followed by the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and the FIBA women’s World Cup in Spain in September.

Women’s basketball is popular in Australia. Photo: FIBA

McNamee wants to change the way everyone, both inside basketball and outside it, talks about the Opals, whom he believes are Australia’s No.1 women’s team.

“It starts with behaviour and if we are going to have a presence in the very cluttered Australian sporting landscape then we need to have a very good story which is credible and I think we have that,” McNamee said.

“Basketball is really Australia’s No.1women’s sport but I know the perception is not that, especially with the rhetoric around the Matildas and I love soccer so don’t get me wrong.

“They are hoping to compete for a world cup, we have won a world championship and we are looking for another one in Spain this year.

“So our behaviour in the messages and imagery we send out has to reflect this fact and I’ve been involved in some pretty big women’s sports in tennis and golf.”

McNamee has spent the past three years living in Istanbul where his company ran major tennis tournaments but he has decided to come back to Melbourne and was looking at his options.

Boomers team member Patty Mills. Photo: Pat Scala

BA chairman Ned Coten reached out to him to see if he could help out and McNamee said he immediately saw the potential in the sport, especially with the nation’s international stars, the resurgence of the NBL under Larry Kestelman’s leadership and coverage of both leagues on pay television.

“The Boomers are huge, physically and financially,” McNamee said.

“The top 10 sports earners just came out and six of them are in basketball, that is a complete domination of the brand equity and earning capacity of our best athletes.

“I don’t have to repeat the excitement around some of those guys in the NBA but we are now in a World Cup qualifying phase, there are two games next month in Melbourne and we have a World Cup in China in 2019 and an Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

“All of the stars are aligning in that way –it means prime time matches with our best players on court and we need to exploit that.

“We need to get that right.”

McNamee’s big vision may be met with some scepticism, especially fromthose in basketball circles who have been let down by big visions in the past.

Paul McNamee at Melbourne Park in 2002. Photo: Gerry Angelos

While McNamee acknowledges there are obstacles,he is certain the sport is about to hit a growth spurt.

“We know what our story is, we know what is ahead the next couple of years but there are some obstacles we have to overcome and changing those perceptions is not a walk in the park,” McNamee said.

“Are the Opals playing again in Australia this year [aftertheCommonwealth Games]? They didn’t play here last year so we have to get that right.

“We need a couple of friendly games for the Opals here in their gear before the World Cup in Spain –that works –but we need to make that happen otherwise they are invisible.”

The Boomers received no favours from FIBA when they were drawn into two away games during the June window when the NBA players are in off-season and potentially available to play.

It looks unlikely they will be called up, although if the country gets the first game at home in the September window then it remains possible someone under contract like Matthew Dellavedova may choose to suit up, but that remains in doubt.

“Having two away games in June must not happen again,” McNamee said.

“Maybe we can make sure there is a home game in the September window and maybe convince one or two NBA guys with secured positions [contracts] to play. We need that access to execute our strategy,2019 is an easier sell as it’s a World Cup year but we need to make things happen this year.”

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Three airlifted from serious South Coast crash

The male patient is loaded into an ambulance to be taken to Milton Ulladulla Hospital for emergency treatment before he is airlifted. Photo: Jessica McInerney.Three people including a five-year-old boy have been airlifted tohospitalfollowing a serious head-on collision atNarrawallee, north of Mollymook, Thursday afternoon.
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The coastal village is home toLisa Elmas, the first to arrive on scene of a horrific Boxing Day crashsouth of Sussex Inlet that claimed four lives, including three of the four members of Sydney’s Falkholt family.

Incredibly, Ms Elmas also chanced upon this afternoon’s crash,which has caused critical injuries to a 37-year-old woman, and left a five-year-old boy seriously hurt.

Emergency services prepare the female patient to be airlifted to hospital. Photo: Jessica McInerney.

Emergency services were called to the crash on Matron Porter Driveabout 3.50pm.

A 36-year-old male driver was trapped by his left legin a silver sports utility vehicle, suffering afractured left femur, pelvis, right wrist and fibula and suspected spinal injuries.

He was taken by road ambulance to Shoalhaven Hospital, then airlifted to St George Hospital.

His front-seat passenger, a woman believed aged 37, was airlifted in a critical condition withabdominal injuries, a fractured right tibia and fibula and suspected spinal injuries to a Sydney hospital.

Meanwhile, a five-year-old boy was taken to Milton Ulladulla Hospital by road withfacial injuries, where his condition deteriorated. He has since been airliftedtoSydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.

A witness on the scene said “up to nine people” were working to free the man.

Emergency crews used hydraulic cutters to remove the man from the car. Pieces of the car, including the boot, wereremoved.

The cars collided in a 60km/h roadwork zone on a bend.

A man travelling in a separate vehicle was transported to Milton Hospital for assessment, suffering minor injuries, a NSW Ambulance spokesman said.

The road remained closed in both directions on Thursday evening while crash investigators examined the scene.

Judy Brownwas on the scene shortly after the crash.

“I was leaving to go somewhere five minutes before so I was lucky,” shesaid.It’s a bit of a sweeping bend there. At the moment it’s only 60 km/h but it’s normally 80 km/hwhich is probably a bit too fast.

“They’re doing the footpath extending up the hill at the moment so there are roadworks.”

“You just hope that they’re all going to be okay.”

The coffins of Annabelle Falkholt (centre) and her parents Lars and Vivian Falkholt are carried out of St Mary’s Catholic Church following their funeral in Concord, Sydney, yesterday. Picture: Kate Geraghty

The crash comes the day after Vivian Falkholt, her husband Lars and their 21-year-old daughter Annabelle were farewelled at a funeral service –casualties of a horror Boxing Day crash on the Prinnces Highway.

Craig Whittall from Ulladulla swerved onto the the wrong side of the road, killing the family and himself.

Annabelle’s sister, Home and Away actress Jessica Falkholt, remains fighting for life.

Lars and Vivian Falkholt, Annabelle Falkholt and Jessica Falkholt. Picture: supplied

Ms Elmas was first on the scene of that crash.

She later described how she pulled the sisters from the wreckage and attempted to retrieve their mother’s body before the car went up in flames.

Ms Elmas told the Mercury she was approaching the Narrawallee crash site this afternoon when she realised what she was seeing, and –knowing there were others already assisting the injured -turned her car around.

“It was too much for me. I turned around after the police overtook me,” she said.

“It’s too soon.

“I’m up and down. It’s a day to day process. It’s going to take some time. I just want to try and get back to normality for my children.”

Lisa Elmas. Picture: Jessica McInerney

In the aftermath of the Boxing Day tragedy, Ms Elmas has called for first aid kids and fire extinguishers to be made mandatory in all vehicles.

She has created a petition –which can be signed at change.org –in support of the cause.

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Jessica Falkholt remains critical in hospital after Princes Highway crash

A woman who lost her entire family in a head-on crash on the Princes Highway on Boxing Day was still fighting for life in hospital on Friday morning, the hospital said.
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It’s understood the life supportfor actor Jessica Falkholt was due to be switched off on Thursday night, but early on Friday morning, the hospital said she remained in a critical condition.

Jessica Falkholt, 28, is in a critical condition in hospital. Photo: Supplied

The 28-year-old has been in St George Hospital with serious injuries since the fieryBoxing Day collision near Ulladulla, on the NSW South Coast.

She had been riding in a car with her father Lars 69, mother Vivian, 60, and younger sister Annabelle, 21,on the morning of December 26, 2017 when it was hit head-onby a four-wheel-drive that veered onto the wrong side of the roadnear Ulladulla at about 10.45am.

Lars andVivian died instantly on impact, while bystanders managed to pull Jessica and Annabelle from the wreck.

READ MORE: Hundreds of mourners farewell Falkholt family after Boxing Day crash

Home and Away, on which Jessica had her break-out role, posted on social media on Thursday night: “Rest in peace, beautiful Jessica Falkholt”, with a link to a news story about her life support being turned off.

However, a police spokeswoman said they had not been informed of any change to Jessica’s condition either by crash investigators or St George police.

Lars Falkholt, his wife Vivian, and their daughter Annabelle have died, while Jessica Falkholt remains critical. Photo: Facebook

Craig AnthonyWhitall, 51, who was behind the wheel of the Toyota Prado, also died on impact.

Both sisters were flown to hospital, butAnnabelle died after her life support was switched offdays after the crash.

Hundreds of mournersattended the funeralfor Annabelle and her parents at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Concord on Wednesday.

In his eulogy, Vivian’s brotherPaul Ponticellothanked emergency services and the bystanders who pulled Annabelle and Jessica from the wreckage.

“Their lives ending on a highway makes absolutely no sense,” he said.

“We take little comfort in knowing that they are together and always will be.”

Lars was remembered as a wonderful husband and father, and Annabellewas remembered as a loving and kind person.

“She loved to laugh and the sound of it is something many of us will carry for the rest of our lives,” her close friend BrittanyMacchettatold the funeral service.

TheFalkholtswere travelling back to Sydney after a short Christmas break when they came into the path of MrWhittall, who was on his way home from a methadone clinic.

MrWhitall, who was known to police, was making the hour-long drive home to Ulladulla after visiting the clinic in Nowra on Boxing Day morning.

About 50 kilometres into the 65-kilometre trip, as he neared the Bendalong turnoff, hisfour-wheel-drive failed to negotiate a sweeping left-hand bend and crashed into theFalkholts’ Mazda.

Crash investigators are examining the cause of the accident and whether methadone played a part.

with AAP

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UK foils Assange escape plan, insisting he must ‘face justice’

The UK government has blocked a plan to whisk Julian Assange to freedom, denying an application for diplomatic immunity and insisting he must “face justice” for breaching bail.
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Ecuador confirmed on Thursday it had granted citizenship to Assange in December, at his request.

It appears this was part of a plan to make him a part of Ecuador’s diplomatic mission, which would grant him immunity from prosecution under international law.

Since mid-2012 Assange has stayed inside Ecuador’s small London embassy, which he entered after he exhausted his legal options in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations.

Last year Swedish prosecutors officially ended their investigation into the allegations.

However Assange still faces arrest over breaching bail conditions, and fears extradition to the US to face charges over his work with Wikileaks.

On Thursday the UK Foreign Office revealed that the government of Ecuador had recently requested diplomatic status for Assange in the UK.

“The UK did not grant that request, nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter,” an FCO spokesman said.

“Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice.”

On Tuesday Ecuador’s foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said Assange’s position was “unsustainable” from a human point of view, because “a person cannot live in these conditions forever”.

She was “exploring the possibility of mediation” by a third country or person to resolve the situation.

She said the UK “has also shown interest in finding a way out”.

Ms Espinosa also said Ecuador would “continue to protect Julian Assange while his physical and psychological integrity is in danger”.

At a press conference on Thursday – at which she confirmed reports that Assange had been naturalised Ecuadorian – Ms Espinosa said she feared for threats to Assange’s life coming from third party states.

“The Ecuadorian government has the power to grant nationality to a protected person,” she said.

They would continue to look for alternatives, under international law, to resolve the situation.

“We are currently exploring other solutions, in dialogue with the United Kingdom, in a possible mediation that could facilitate a just, definitive and dignified solution for all parties involved, within the framework of international law,” Ms Espinosa said.

Reports of the escape plan spread this week after Assange’s name was discovered on Ecuador’s online civil registry, linked to an identity card number 1729926483. The first two digits of the number indicate he is a citizen of the province of Pinchincha, where the capital city Quito is located.

Assange fuelled rumours by Tweeting a photo of himself in the Ecuador national football team kit.

According to the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service, the UK follows the 1961 Vienna Convention on the rights of diplomats, which confers immunity from criminal prosecution for all entitled members of a foreign mission.

However immunity confers only after their names have been sent to – and approved by – the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

And the Convention obliges diplomats to respect the laws of their host country.

Fairfax contacted members of Assange’s legal team for comment but was referred to the statement by Ecuador.

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World needs to ‘prepare for the worst’ with North Korea, retired general warns

Retired South Korean General I. B. Chun addressing the Policy Exchange in London on January 11, 2018, on the threat posed by North Korea. Story by Latika Bourke. Retired South Korean General I. B. Chun (left) listens to Conservative MP and chair of the British parliament??????s foreign affairs committee Tom Tugendhat at at address to the Policy Institute in London on January 11, 2018. Story and photo: Latika Bourke
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London: The world needs to “prepare ourselves for the worst”, a recently-retired South Korean general has warned, despite hopes that tensions between North and South Korea could thaw following recent talks.

Lieutenant-General I.B. Chun told the Westminster-based think tank Policy Exchange that, while his heart hoped the talks would lead to peace, every indication was that “we have a long way to go”.

In landmark 11-hour peace talks this week, North and South Korea agreed that the North would send a team to compete in next month’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang

But North Korea said it would not discuss its nuclear weapons because they were aimed only at the United States and not its “brethren” in South Korea, or Russia or China, showing that a diplomatic breakthrough to the global crisis remained far off.

Chun is also a former national security adviser to South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in when he was running for office. He first gained prominence in 1983 when as a young lieutenant he was credited with saving the life of a senior general during a terrorist bombing in Burma. Later, he became one of the most senior contact points for US military commanders in South Korea.

When asked by Fairfax Media if the first talks in two years signalled any material change, Chun said his 39 years of military experience had taught him that South Korea needed to be ready because often the only proven pathway to peace is war.

“You must seek peace but at the same time prepare ourselves for the worst,” he said.

But he said he was confident that, despite North Korea’s nuclear and chemical weapons and cyber warfare capabilities, the United States would prevail.

“There is no doubt in any South Korean’s mind that if there’s war that the alliance will win and it’s just the fact that the sheer air power that the Korean and the United States – with British aircraft – that will hopefully come to our aid, can inflict on the North Koreans,” he said.

“It’s North Korea against the world at the moment.”

He said US President Donald Trump’s confrontational tweets, in which he has threatened military action against North Korea, had spooked the country’s leader Kim Jong-un.

“Right now they’re a little off balance because of Mr Trump, so because of Mr Trump they’re trying to figure out is he really crazy? Is he really going to do this or not? Mr Trump has put them off balance,” he said.

“My greatest fear is that the North Koreans are believing their own propaganda.”

But he said Kim’s provocations, including repeated missile tests, had “awoken the average American” and given “all justification to get his arse kicked”. Kim Jong-un ‘like Hitler’

Chan said Kim views himself as akin to the Swedish royal family and is not crazy but is similar in temperament to Adolf Hitler.

He said the Kim dynasty had created such a cult in North Korea, where citizens are indoctrinated, that ridding the country of the family would be less like deposing the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and more like trying to remove Allah in Muslim countries.

“Can you imagine what that would look like? Trying to get rid of Allah in Afghanistan or Iraq?”

Australia, Britain and the US have all named North Korea as the culprit behind the global WannaCry cyber attack that crippled the British health system and infected 300,000 computers across the world.

Chan said Pyongyang’s ability to hack systems worldwide should not be underestimated.

“North Korean cyber capability is right below nuclear capability in terms of threat.” China prefers nuclear North to US in Asia

North Korea ramped up missile launches last year and conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, prompting a US-led campaign to impose some of the strongest international sanctions yet, which Pyongyang dubbed an “act of war”.

The international community, including Australia, has called on China to do more to contain North Korea.

But Chan said Beijing had calculated that it would prefer a nuclear-armed North Korean neighbour than an increased US presence in its neighbourhood.

Conservative MP and chairman of the British Parliament’s influential foreign affairs committee, Tom Tugendhat???, said Britain, Australia and the rest of the Commonwealth had a great stake in the Korean peninsula, although he cautioned against any direct British role in “tipping the balance”.

Tugendhat singled out Australia’s high commissioner to Britain, Alexander Downer who attended the speech.

“It’s very good to see you here representing the great Commonwealth,” Tugendhat told Downer.

“We have this enormous shared trade culture but we actually have a lot more than that too that’s less noticed,” he said, adding that Australia and Britain were major investors in South Korean enterprises.

But he said this was a secondary priority compared with Britain and Australia’s interests in upholding the international rules-based order.

With agencies

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