Monthly Archives: September 2019

Israel threatens revenge for rocket attack

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Lebanon’s Hezbollah it will pay the “full price” after missiles killed two Israeli soldiers in an attack that raised fears of another all-out war.

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A Spanish UN peacekeeper was also killed as Israel and Hezbollah exchanged artillery fire – the most serious clashes between the bitter enemies in years – following the attack by the Shi’ite militant group.

“Those behind today’s attack will pay the full price,” Netanyahu’s office quoted him as saying at a meeting with Israeli’s top security brass on Wednesday evening.

The two soldiers were killed when Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile at a military convoy in an Israeli-occupied border area, the army said.

Seven other soldiers were wounded, but none was reported to have suffered life-threatening injuries.

The UN Security Council called an emergency meeting to discuss ways to defuse tensions between the two sides, who fought a month-long war in 2006.

Israel responded to the Hezbollah shelling with “combined aerial and ground strikes” on southern Lebanon – an apparent retaliation for a recent Israeli strike on the Golan Heights that killed senior Hezbollah members.

The US stood by Israel after the exchange of fire and condemned Hezbollah’s shelling of an Israeli military convoy.

“We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defence and continue to urge all parties to respect the blue line between Israel and Lebanon,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini appealed for an “immediate cessation of hostilities”.

Lebanese security sources told AFP that Israeli forces had hit several villages along the border.

A 36-year-old Spanish corporal from the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon was killed in the exchange of fire, officials said.

It said the precise cause of the peacekeeper’s death was “as yet undetermined” and urged all sides to show “maximum restraint to prevent an escalation”.

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Australians urged to be bowel aware

Phil Illingworth thought something was amiss four years ago when he started having stomach problems.

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The Perth grandfather, now 56, went to his GP for a check-up but his symptoms were initially dismissed.

Two years later he went to a different GP. After several tests it was then he was given the news he had bowel cancer.

“I lived with my problem for two years and after two years I had really bad stomach cramps, I couldn’t go to the toilet properly.

“A blood test indicated there was something wrong in the bowels, and with the colonoscopy they found the tumour immediately.

“The tumour had grown very large.”

After three operations, Mr Illingworth is now cancer free. This year about 15,000 Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer, which is the country’s second biggest cancer killer.

That’s why Mr Illingworth is speaking about the disease. “The problem is people don’t like to talk about bowel cancer, it’s about pooh and things.

“But once you turn 50 you should be screened every two years. “In between that if you have any symptoms at all then you should go to your GP and ask to be tested.”

A new campaign launched on Thursday is encouraging people to get checked before it’s too late.

Only 34 per cent of women and 43 per cent of men reported having had a stool sample checked in the last two years, a Bowel Cancer Australia survey of 1200 people aged between 40 and 70 years found.

By contrast, 70 per cent of women had been checked for breast cancer and 54 per cent of men had been checked for prostate cancer. Colorectal surgeon Dr Graham Newstead said people need to prioritise testing in the same way they would for other common cancers.

“I would urge people from age 50 to do a test today and repeat it every one to two years,” said Associate Professor Newstead.

“It’s easy and can be done in the privacy of your own home.” When found early, 90 per cent of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated.

“Bowel cancer often develops without any warning signs,” said Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive Julien Wiggins.

“Regardless of family history, from age 50, all Australians are at an increased risk. People need to be bowel aware.”

Bowel cancer symptoms may include:

* A change in bowel habit

* Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding

* Bloating

* Unexplained tiredness

* Abdominal pain or swelling or a lump or mass in your tummy

* Vomiting

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ICC ends Aamer fixing ban

Banned Pakistan paceman Mohammad Aamer vowed on Thursday to prove himself as a “better player and better human being” after his spot-fixing ban was relaxed by the cricket world governing body.

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The International Cricket Council (ICC) has said Aamer, 22, can return to domestic matches with immediate effect, ending his five-year suspension from all forms of the game some eight months early.

Aamer, who was banned for his part in a scandal in which he arranged no-balls to order in a 2010 Test against England, said he was overwhelmed by the ICC announcement.

“It’s the biggest news of my life,” he told AFP by phone.

“It was the most difficult phase of my life but I am sure it’s over now and I am keen to return to international grounds.”

The 22-year-old’s ban was due to expire on September 2, but the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) used discretionary powers to allow him to return to Pakistani domestic games early.

“The ACSU Chairman, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, with the prior approval of the ICC Board and the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board), has exercised his discretion to allow Aamer to return to domestic cricket played under the auspices of the PCB with immediate effect,” the ICC said in a statement.

Aamer, along with captain Salman Butt and new-ball partner Mohammad Asif were found guilty of orchestrating deliberate no-balls in the Lord’s Test against England in August 2010.

The three players and their agent Mazhar Majeed were jailed by a UK court after the now-defunct tabloid News of the World exposed them in a sting operation.

At the time of the incident Aamer was regarded as one of the hottest young bowling prospects in world cricket and there was some sympathy for him, given his young age – he was 18 at the time.

“The ACSU chairman was satisfied that Aamer had cooperated with the ACSU by fully disclosing his part in the matters that led to his disqualification, admitting his guilt, showing remorse and cooperating with the Unit’s ongoing investigations and by recording messages for the ACSU education sessions,” the ICC statement said.

PCB lawyer Tafazzul Rizvi said Aamer will be monitored during his return to domestic matches.

“The ICC code was followed in the process and now PCB will monitor Aamer’s behaviour in the next few months and only after that will he be eligible to return to international cricket,” Rizvi told AFP.

Former captain Ramiz Raja and former PCB head Tauqir Zia recently voiced their opposition to Aamer’s return to international cricket.

PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan had also revealed that some current Pakistan players had indicated they would not be comfortable sharing a dressing room with Aamer.

Aamer, however, vowed to win over the naysayers with his bowling – and promised to behave from now on.

“If anyone has any problems with my return I am sure he will change his views with my character and good performances,” said Aamer.

“My job is to play and do well and I am sure that I will return to international cricket as a better player and better human being and that’s my aim.”

Aamer said he never thought of giving up cricket.

“Cricket is my life and I never thought of leaving it,” he said.

“I have not forgotten how to bowl but now my focus on cricket will be more than before as I have to prove myself again.”

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Govt sticking with super tax concessions

Calls for the Abbott government to take the axe to tax concessions to improve the budget bottom line would seem to be a non-starter, at least for the next financial year.

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The Australian Council of Social Service has urged the government to address inefficient tax arrangements rather than make spending cuts in the 2015/16 May budget.

The welfare lobby group wants reform of negative gearing, superannuation and capital gains tax concessions, which collectively cost the budget billions of dollars in foregone revenue.

ACOSS boss Cassandra Goldie said this budget needs to be a lot fairer than the last one.

“The way this can be achieved is by seriously targeting wasteful spending at the top end … instead of pursuing policies that shift the burden on to people on the lowest incomes,” she said releasing the group’s 2015/16 budget submission.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says everyone will have the opportunity to put forward ideas on how to improve the tax system in this year’s white paper tax review.

But any changes would be taken to the 2016 election.

Furthermore, Senator Cormann said the coalition made a commitment at the last election that it wouldn’t make any unexpected, adverse changes to superannuation tax settings.

“You can’t have government’s continuously chopping and changing these policy settings,” Senator Cormann told Fairfax radio.

“People saving for their retirement need certainty and stability.”

He also rejected an ACOSS proposal to scrap the $6.6 billion private health insurance rebate, saying it is very important all Australians can have timely and affordable access to quality health care.

“The coalition is strongly committed to supporting those Australians who take additional responsibility for their own health care needs,” he told ABC radio.

But he said it is important to get the budget under control so that the nation lives within its means.

The mid-year budget review released just before Christmas showed a marked deterioration in the deficit, partly as a result of a steep drop in commodity prices hitting the nation’s income.

New data on Thursday showed the country’s terms of trade eased further during the December quarter to a near five-year low as import prices outpaced flat exports.

“We expect the terms of trade to slip a little further in early 2015 as commodity prices remain under pressure,” JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said.

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Record-breaker Sangakkara sets up Sri Lanka win

New Zealand, who won the series 4-2, never recovered from losing early wickets in their chase and were all out for 253 in the 46th over.

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The hosts were reduced to 42-3 in the 12th over and barring a 74-run stand between Luke Ronchi (47) and Daniel Vettori (35) for the seventh wicket, Sri Lanka always looked in control.

Kane Williamson top-scored for New Zealand with 54 while Kyle Mills hit a 17-ball 30 towards the end.

The 37-year-old Sangakkara, who is expected to retire from international cricket after the World Cup, passed Adam Gilchrist as the most successful wicketkeeper when he caught Corey Anderson off the bowling of Shaminda Eranga.

He later added another catch to the tally when he pouched Tim Southee off Thisara Perera, taking his career total to 474 dismissals with 378 catches and 96 stumpings in the 50-over format when he played as a wicketkeeper.

Australia’s Gilchrist achieved 472 dismissals in 287 one-day matches.

“The entire team has been working very hard. The hard work has paid off with some good performances out in the middle,” man-of-the-match Sangakkara said at the presentation.

“I just try to do the basics as well as I can.”

Earlier, Tillakaratne Dilshan (81) and Lahiru Thirimanne (30) gave Sri Lanka a good start, adding 71 for the opening wicket before the latter fell leg before to Anderson.

Sangakkara walked out at number three and then added 104 for the second wicket before Dilshan was out caught by wicketkeeper Ronchi off paceman Southee.

Sri Lanka lost a few quick wickets but Sangakkara held the innings together and brought up his century with a crisp pull shot off Mitchell McClenaghan. The stylish left-hander hit 14 boundaries in his 105-ball knock.

Anderson finished with three wickets for 59 runs for New Zealand.

The World Cup, which is co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia, runs from Feb. 14-March 29.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O’Brien)

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