Travis Burns cops 12-week ban

Double hit ... the nine-match ban is in addition to the three games Burns will miss after pleading guilty to this chicken wing tackle on Mose Masoe in the same game. Travis Burns
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TRAVIS BURNS was accused last night of a ''get-square'' on Roosters prop Martin Kennedy, yet his only recourse will be a legal appeal. Having been found guilty of an intentional high tackle, he was given a nine-match ban.

When added to a separate charge stemming from the same spiteful clash in round 20, Burns will be sidelined for a total of 12 matches. So not only has he been handed the equal third-longest suspension in NRL history - albeit as a result of two charges - he has also been found guilty of a deliberate high tackle, something his counsel had warned was ''one of the worst'' accusations that could be levelled at a player.

In last night's case, which had been held over a week, the panel was given two very contrasting versions of the tackle. Burns insisted he had attempted a ''ball-and-all'' tackle, in a case of ''big man on small man''. It was an accident, he said. The prosecution described it as a deliberate high tackle - a ''get-square''.

During cross-examination, Burns was accused of ''smiling'' just after the tackle. NRL prosecutor Peter Kite maintained that Burns had a sense of ''mission accomplished'' after the tackle.

Burns, though, said: ''I'm trying to finish off a tackle. I didn't realise I'd made contact with the head until everyone rushed in.''

Kite said Burns could be seen ''leaping into the air with a swinging right arm, directed at the head of player Kennedy. It's a classic swinging-arm tackle. The left arm doesn't wrap at all, [while] the movement of the head to the side was to allow for the swinging arm. He didn't have to leap into the air to make a ball-and-all tackle.

''It was clearly a get-square against player Kennedy for whatever reason.''

Kite said the tackle was at worst intentional, and at best reckless. In contrast, Burns's counsel Nick Ghabar said the tackle was at worst reckless and at best careless.

''If he was going to make an intentional tackle, you would have thought he'd at least try a stiff arm,'' Ghabar said.

Burns repeatedly denied that he had deliberately hit Kennedy high. ''I was defending my try line,'' he said. ''He's a big guy, I'm on the try line, I'm thinking of a one-on-one tackle, a ball-and-all tackle - I wanted to wrap the ball up in one motion.''

Asked why he appeared to leap, Burns said: ''It was close to the line, he's a lot taller than me. I felt to do a ball-and-all tackle close to the line, I had to elevate myself to that height.''

Burns denied he had foreseen that contact would be made with the head or neck of Kennedy. Under cross-examination, Burns also denied Kite's assertion that he had been ''looking constantly at his [Kennedy's] head''.

''I'm not looking at the head,'' Burns said. ''I'm looking at Martin, because he's running directly at me. You've got to keep your eyes on who you're tackling.''

The panel of Royce Ayliffe, Michael Buettner and Sean Garlick took less than 10 minutes to find that Burns had committed an intentional high tackle. But the prosecution's wish for a grade-three offence was rejected by the panel, which opted for the lowest grade of the intentional scale. Thus Burns was handed a 12-match ban, having already pleaded guilty to a dangerous-contact charge over a chicken-wing tackle earlier in the same game.

The utility has already served one match of his suspension.

Burns was clearly shattered. While his contract with the Panthers expires at the end of next season, there have been suggestions that he has been told that he can look for another club next year. That search would be more difficult now. Burns will serve half of his suspension this year, leaving him with a six-match ban next year.

Head down, he walked out of Rugby League Central without uttering a word. Definitely no smile.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

By admin, ago

Vintage gems from the vault

LIKE leadership tension in the Labor Party, some television shows simply refuse to die. On the free-to-air multichannels and nostalgia-based pay TV channels, it's as if the new millennium never happened.
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One explanation is old shows are cheap and there are lots of channels in need of content. But there's more to it than that.

For a start, the shows with the longest shelf life are sitcoms. Most sitcoms abide by the rule that nobody learns and nobody grows, which makes them ideally suited to lives of perpetual rotation. Each episode works within a rigid universe where familiar tropes, character traits and catchphrases are repeated ad infinitum. In narrative terms, they exist in a state of suspended animation.

Interestingly, a disproportionate number of these sitcoms come from the US in the mid-1960s, which in retrospect was the golden age of the sitcom. It was, of course, a golden age for popular culture in general - a kind of cultural big bang, the effects of which are still being felt to this day. These shows reflect a world that is recognisably our own while simultaneously suffused with a comforting glow of nostalgia.

In stylistic terms, it represented a magical period between the drab austerity of the 1950s and overindulgence of the early '70s. It is a period enjoying a revival thanks to the success of Mad Men, and the cool minimalism of shows such as I Dream of Jeannie and Get Smart seem almost contemporary.

Here are 10 US sitcoms from the '60s, in order of launch date, that deserve their place in the TV schedule.

Many became more popular in syndication than when they first aired, gradually insinuating their way into the popular imagination.

Some have dated better than others, but they share fine writing and production values, and a beguiling sense of optimism.

Bewitched (1964-72)Number of episodes: 254

The first of a run of shows combining family sitcom tropes with supernatural elements. Beautiful witch Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) marries mortal Darrin (Dick York, and later Dick Sargent) and tries to lead a normal suburban life. Storylines are driven by attempts to keep Samantha's true nature hidden, and the disapproval of her mother (Agnes Moorehead), who doesn't approve of the mixed marriage. The idea of a powerful woman subverting attempts to tame her played well at a time when patriarchal structures were being challenged. Watch it on: Gem, TV1, DVD.

The Addams Family (1964-66)Number of episodes: 64

This is based on a series of New Yorker magazine cartoons about an eccentric family with supernatural capabilities. The plots are driven by the family's good-natured indifference to how they appear to straight society, and in that sense the show anticipated the emerging countercultural revolution. It features wonderful, richly drawn characters and a superb theme song. Watch it on: Fox Classics, DVD.

The Munsters (1964-66)Number of episodes: 70

This aired during the same period as The Addams Family but in this case the humour derives from the family looking like horror-movie characters while acting like a conventional sitcom family. Both shows were broadcast in black and white and this has only added to their timeless, Gothic appeal. Watch it on: DVD only.

Gilligan's Island (1964-67)Number of episodes: 98

Created by Sherwood Schwartz, who later made The Brady Bunch, this features a disparate group stranded on a deserted island.

The plots are driven by the incompatibility of the castaways and their thwarted attempts to escape, usually as a result of Gilligan's ineptitude. The early episodes were first aired in black and white but were colourised for syndication. Watch it on: Channel Nine, DVD.

Hogan's Heroes (1965-71)Number of episodes: 168

Released against a backdrop of the Cold War and US involvement in Vietnam, and with the horrors of Hitler's Final Solution relatively fresh in people's minds, a jolly World War II prisoner-of-war romp might have seemed a curious anachronism. But presenting German officers as bumbling fools possibly provided a salve of sorts for those scarred by the war. Watch it on: Channel One, DVD.

I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70)Number of episodes: 139

Inspired by the success of Bewitched and based loosely on the movie The Brass Bottle, which also stars Barbara Eden, this follows a hapless astronaut (Larry Hagman) who accidentally releases a genie (Eden) who is determined to serve him. Much of the humour comes from his thwarted attempts to control the feisty, mischievous Jeannie and conceal her true identity from colleagues and neighbours. Sidney Sheldon created the series and wrote most of the episodes. Watch it on: Gem, TV1.

Get Smart (1965-70)Number of episodes: 138

Comedian Mel Brooks devised this superb spy-show parody with Buck Henry but took a backseat after the pilot. The show's stylish mid-'60s aesthetic has a timeless appeal and its legacy is an abundance of references that have permeated popular culture - the cone of silence, the shoe phone, phrases such as ''and loving it'' and ''missed it by that much''. It was a kind of knowing slapstick, based on the repetition of deliberately bad jokes and some rich characters. Still, the show's success relied on the chemistry between Don Adams as Agent 86 Maxwell Smart, and Barbara Feldon as 99. Despite their age difference, his bumbling pratfalls and her weirdly vulnerable flirtation are a winning combination. Watch it on: Channel One, TV1.

Batman (1966-68)Number of episodes: 120

The popular DC Comics character gets a playful, quasi-psychedelic, gloriously camp television adaptation with Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as the boy wonder, Robin. Its signature motif is the use of words such as KAPOW!, BAM! and ZOK! superimposed over fight scenes - a homage both to the show's comic-book origins and the pop-art movement, which reached its apotheosis in the US in the early to mid-'60s. Watch it on: 111 Hits.

The Monkees (1966-68)Number of episodes: 58

Inspired by the success of the Beatles' movies, particularly A Hard Day's Night, Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider manufactured a four-piece band for a TV show. Despite the contrived nature of the band (often referred to as the Pre-Fab Four) and the show, both surpassed expectations. The show features avant-garde film techniques and bravely shunned a laugh track. The band also railed against the restraints imposed on them, eventually writing their own material and gaining respect within the music industry. Watch it on: DVD only.

The Brady Bunch (1969-74)Number of episodes: 117

Although it was launched in the '60s, this is much more a post-'60s artefact, the blended Brady family an acknowledgment of the disruption the decade caused to family life (the creator, Sherwood Schwartz, intended Carol to be a divorcee but the network insisted this not be made explicit). Nevertheless, it is a gentle, anodyne family sitcom that seems irredeemably cheesy today. Its enduring popularity seems based more on a postmodern affection for kitsch than any intrinsic qualities. Watch it on: Channel Eleven, TV1, DVD.

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By admin, ago

Whale of a dirty job for humpback disposal team

TOWING the massive whale carcass on Newport Beach out for a sea burial would be a difficult and dangerous task, but still far more pleasant than the ''horrible'' alternative.
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The dead humpback became lodged in the beach's ocean swimming pool before dawn today. It was refloated on the high tide, just before 8pm and tomorrow it is likely to be carved into pieces by chainsaw and knife, when it washes ashore again.

Six chainsaw teams, normally deployed cutting up trees by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, are standing by for the grisly job.

''It's a horrible task, there's no doubt about it,'' said Geoff Ross, the co-ordinator of marine and fauna programs at the NPWS. ''It's like when you are cutting up any large organism - parts of it are very hard to cut, the sights and smells evoke emotions, it's extremely tough work.''

The 11.6-metre-long, 30 tonne humpback whale is thought to have died about three days ago, and the vast corpse was beginning to bloat with gas as it lay in the swimming pool.

The beach was closed to swimming and the whale body attracted a crowd of about 500, as well as herons, gulls, and a pair of falcons that observed developments from a nearby rock ledge.

Sections of the swimming pool's fence were removed, and staff from the Office of Environment and Heritage and Pittwater Council hoped the dead mammal would float further down the beach on the high tide.

''Once that happens, we will move in and cut it up,'' Mr Ross said. ''I'll make an incision to let out the gas that's building up inside, and then the chainsaw teams will get to work.''

Cutting up the whale means separate teams starting at the head and the tail and working inwards until the creature is divided into a series of large chunks of flesh and blubber, each weighing three or four tonnes.

''It's a very difficult process and the chainsaws get blunted quickly, so we rotate teams regularly, with the whole process taking much of the day,'' Mr Ross said. ''I'll take the opportunity to do a quick necropsy, so we can see if we can work out why the animal died.''

Tissue and DNA samples would also be taken. Beached whales often also contain human pollution, such as clumps of plastic bags, Mr Ross said.

Once the carcass is cut up, it is likely to be taken by truck to a landfill site in western Sydney, where it will take several years to decay.

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By admin, ago

League and TV’s uneven playing field

Johnathan Thurston's contention that regional teams are subject to an unfair disadvantage because of the sway held by television at NRL headquarters is more an observation than a news story. It's patently true.
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The problem we have in squeezing four national football codes into a country of only 22 million is that we have to paper over a helluva lot of cracks. We only have six state capitals and one of them is so small it can't support a team in any footy code.

So while we do our best to even up the playing talent between the franchises, we can't force people to like them all equally when some are based in giant cities and others in rural areas. Television likes the teams that people like the most – and because of that will work against the interests of the game's administration by pushing those teams, allowing them to demand more from sponsors.

The way our television networks are set up – out of capitals with regional affiliates - accentuates the problem.

As I wrote in Rugby League Week this week, the Central Queensland NRL bid is finding it difficult to swim against the tide of news content that comes out of the capitals and into regional areas. Football teams like the Cowboys have managed to actually send content in the other direction – but you've got to get into the comp first.

It's wrong that Canberra are never on free-to-air TV. It's wrong that Brisbane always play on Fridays. The previous administration of the NRL managed to give us uncertainty of results, even when a team based at Suncorp Stadium plays one based at Leichhardt. That's no small achievement.

The challenge for the new hierarchy is to eliminate the other inequalities which were enshrined in the current broadcast deal. Full-season scheduling will go a long way towards doing that.

Burgess boys will get England call-up

England are going to South Africa for a training camp straight after the grand final and I fully expect Luke Burgess to join brother Sam in Steve McNamara's squad. McNamara was at Sunday's South Sydney-Wests Tigers game, sitting next to George Burgess who will one day also play for his country.

Just one question though. Given that England were brushed by Australia and New Zealand for internationals this spring, and that their workload consists of just Wales and France plus (hopefully) a Tri-Nations final, why aren't they playing the South Africans as well?

Given that the Rhinos aren't in the World Cup, I don't think it's going to damage anyone's credibility if a second-string England runs up 90 or 100 against South Africa, as Australia and England did against New Zealand A and the United States respectively before the 2000 World Cup.

If we have professional rugby league players going in an officials capacity to a country where our game is played, let's get what we can out of them.

Super League dumps sponsor

Discord has been reliably informed that sponsor Stobart did not dump Super League one year into a three-year deal – it was the other way around.

And that's good news for the game. If you can't get out of a deal with someone who paid nothing, then when can you get out of one? Maybe the RFL had to stump up for the metho to wipe the adverts from the side of the trucks.

By dumping Stobart, RFL chief executive Nigel Wood has repositioned the game in the market place. Accepting a naming rights deal for nothing was tantamount to commercial suicide – staying around for the duration of the deal was actually letting go of the bridge and hurtling earthwards.

Now the league can enter talks with a new backer in a position of – comparative – strength.

League, I love it

For those of you who are new to Discord, welcome! We've been going for three years at various locations, including rugbyleague南京夜网, rleague南京夜网 and – when we got really desperate – stevemascord南京夜网. This is not a Sydney rugby league gossip column; Discord inhabits a parallel universe where people are as interested in the warring factions in Italian Rugby League as they are in how many weeks Anthony Watmough will get for a chickenwing tackle.

The key ingredient for the column, from one week to another, has been comments by readers at the bottom of this page. Feel free to fire some in the knowledge that I'll read them.

If you've gone out of your way to find us from previous locations, thanks a heap.

And click here if you want to read previous columns.

Twitter: @therealsteavis

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By admin, ago

Relay gold medal winner Campbell out of women’s 100m freestyle

Relay gold medal winner Cate Campbell has been struck down with a gastro illness which has forced her out of Wednesday's 100m freestyle heats.
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Campbell, who was ranked to qualify for the final of the blue riband event, has been quarantined from her the rest of the team for the past two days, and Australian head coach Leigh Nugent said on Wednesday morning no other member of the team had been affected.

He said he and the team's medical staff were hopeful Campbell can be ready to swim the heats of the 50m freestyle on Friday morning along with her sister Bronte.

"We're withdrawing Cate from the 100m free today, and the plan is for her to recover and get her up for the 50m," Nugent said. "We have to do everything we can to give her the opportunity to get through the various stages (heat, semi and final) of the 50m.

"She's back at the village now, resting and has been with the doctors now for the last couple of days. We'll see how she recovers from day to day and how she improves.

"She became sick overnight on Monday and was vomiting a bit, had diarrhoea and bad stomach cramps. She was isolated and the doctors have done all they can, including putting her on a drip to replace some fluid. Now she's just resting up and trying to get ready."

Nugent said the decision was made last night to withdraw from the 100m heats when it was clear Campbell, a Beijing bronze medallist as a 16-year-old, was "pretty debilitated."

"It's a pity she couldn't prove herself individually in that event, but in the end you have to cut your losses and try and regain something out of these situations. We know she is a great racer and she was positioned pretty well for this 50m and I believe she hadn't got to her peak coming to this event and the way she had been swimming we felt she would get there. Right now we have to preserve her and hopefully we can bring her out and she can do her thing.

"The doctors believe she can recover in time for the 50m. They can't perform miracles, but they are doing everything they can."

Australia's deputy chef de mission Kitty Chiller said Campbell was isolated from the team in the athletes' village immediately after problems arose.

"She's been ill for around just over a day. She improved slightly yesterday, went downhill a bit last night. She did visit the Polyclinic yesterday because the swimming team doctors were at the pool.

"It's a gastro. She has been moved into a room on her own, and with her own bathroom as well and she will continue to be monitored today, but unfortunately she has had to pull out of the 100 freestyle so Mel Schlanger will be our only swimmer in those heats this morning," Chiller said.

"We're just hoping that Cate can come good, and everything's looking like she will be back to full strength for the 50 freestyle in a couple of days. She's just rehydrating, resting up and getting her strength back.

"She's having no contact at all with any other team members or officials, just with our medical staff."

— with Samantha Lane

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By admin, ago

Kazakhs have the last laugh

Making their mark ... Kazakhstan is escaping from the shadow of Borat.KAZAKHSTAN came to London wanting to be taken seriously. They probably knew they would not get through this Games without a mention of mankini but what they did not anticipate was the commentary to be so brazen and offensive. While the Kazakhs are flying on the medal tally – winning three gold medals in the first four days of competition – they are less happy about their treatment on the streets of London.
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Their deputy chef de mission Aslan Amanov  said members of the team and delegation had been recipients of abuse outside Olympic Park, stemming from Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which parodied their country.

‘‘In the village there is absolutely no problem,’’ Amanov  said. ‘‘The sports world knows Kazakhstan, our good side. It is when we go outside it is very disappointing. When you walk around the city sometimes they shout things at you which are not OK. Some were drunk and they were shouting all sorts of words.

‘‘We tried not to pay attention to it but it’s still ... how can I say it, it’s your country. Of course nobody takes it seriously but there are some thing that you cannot tolerate, things about your mother and sister. No matter how democratic you are you will never tolerate the words that Borat was saying about us.’’

It is now the Kazakhs, not just their tormentors, doing the laughing. The central Asian republic was placed sixth on the medal tally a quarter way through the Games. That put them ahead of heavyweights Russia, Great Britain, Germany and Australia, who beat Kazakhstan 7-4 in men’s water polo on Tuesday but ended the day, in the overall count, two golds behind them in 12th with six medals.

The latest national hero is weightlifter Maiya Maneza, whose 245kg total in the women’s 63kg category  elevated her to the top of the dais on Tuesday. ‘‘I have waited my whole life for this,’’ she said.  ‘‘This is for all the people who cheered for me.’’

There is a lot of that happening in Kazakhstan at the moment. On the first day of the Games,  veteran cyclist Alexander Vinokourov was an unexpected winner of the road race. At the weekend, they doubled their haul of gold in extraordinary scenes when the teenager Zulfiya Chinshanlo  broke the clean and jerk and total world record in weightlifting’s 53kg division.

A second weightlifting gold means the team has  already achieved the stated goal of three gold medals in London, set out by its top sports official, Talgat Yermegiyayev.

Given their previous success in boxing and wrestling there could be more to come. ‘‘This is not the end of the story yet,’’ Amanov said.

It is a wonderful tale for the former Soviet state, an ethnically diverse, resource-rich slab of land about the size of western Europe that hugs  Russia and China. And it has not arrived by accident.

Cohen’s hit movie made the country an easy target although, reportedly, their tourist trade grew despite descriptions like this from travel guide Lonely Planet: ‘‘If you’re not a fan of endless semi-arid steppe and decaying industrial cities, Kazakhstan may seem bleak, but those who enjoy remoteness, wide open spaces, lunar landscapes, long hypnotic train rides and horse sausage will definitely be in their element. If it sometimes looks like the landscape has suffered from hundreds of nuclear explosions, well, parts of it have – ever since Russian rocket scientists started using Kazakhstan as a sandpit in the late 1940s.’’

Despite the jokes, long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev has set about earning the country international recognition through sport. ‘‘He has poured all his energy into this and that’s why we are getting the results,’’ Amanov  said.

Kazakh authorities were done no favours in overturning perceptions by an incident in Kuwait in March when organisers of a shooting championship mistakenly downloaded Cohen’s comedy version of the Kazakh national anthem instead of the real tune and it was played as the gold medal-winning team stood on the podium. It led Yermegiyayev, the chairman of the Kazakh Sport and Physical Education Agency, to issue instructions to the London delegation to ensure the proper national anthem was played.

If that seems like a trivial matter, the country’s increased commitment to featuring prominently in international sport is not. While the doping scandal that dogged the Kazazh-owned professional cycling team Astana between 2007 and 2010 was a blow, they won the hosting rights to the 2011 Asian Winter Games. They were held in the cities of Almaty and Astana, and coincided with hundreds of billions of tenge, the national currency, being spent on building and upgrading venues, and other sporting infrastructure.

In London, Kazakh athletes have an extra incentive to put their nation in lights. It was announced in the lead-up to the Games that gold medallists would receive a $US250,000 ($238,000) bonus, while silver medallists would pick up $US125,000 and bronze medallists $US75,000.

There is also cash for any who finish sixth or better in their events. Coaches, too, were  given a significant pay rise, and  earn between $US500 to $US2000 a month.

Additionally, there was major investment in the athletes’ preparation in an effort to make Kazakhstan’s fifth Olympic campaign since emerging from the behind the iron curtain their most successful. A government fund reportedly allocated 1 billion tenge ($6.35 million) to pay for  ‘‘additional sports equipment and biomedical support’’ and its athletes’  pre-Olympics training. It appears to be paying off.

‘‘Now we are showing the world we can do something good,’’ Amanov said.

Who’s laughing now?

Kazakhstan is the land of Borat and gold medals. Once a part of the USSR, the nation wasn’t often part of general discussion until Sacha Baron Cohen put it on the map. But so far in London the Kazakhs are enjoying a great time of things on the sporting field. Cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov  and weightlifters  Maiya Maneza and Zulfiya Chinshanlo have made great the glorious nation from which they hail. What next? Maybe Cohen  appearing in a mockumentary about Australia’s sporting woes.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

By admin, ago

Raw prawn theft accusation costs Coles $52,900

Coles Supermarkets has been ordered to pay $52,900 in damages to a customer wrongly accused of stealing raw prawns from its Lane Cove store.
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Philip Clarke, 49, an artist, sued Coles for defamation, assault, intimidation, harassment and wrongful imprisonment after he was aggressively confronted by the store manager in front of dozens of other customers.

District Court Judge Leonard Levy found Mr Clarke had been defamed because some of the shoppers may have recognised him from the neighbourhood and the accusation that he had been caught stealing may have been spread along the "grapevine".

In September 2009, Mr Clarke ordered about 500 grams of raw prawns from the delicatessen counter. After filling his trolley with more items, he returned to the counter, put the prawns on the top of it and asked for the package to be topped up to 1 kilogram.

Soon after, the store manager, Shant Tatosian, along with some other staff members, confronted Mr Clarke and accused him of eating some of the prawns so he did not have to pay for them.

A heated exchange followed in which Mr Tatosian claimed Mr Clarke had eaten some prawns, dropping the shells on the floor and secreting the wrapper in the freezer section.

About 30 shoppers witnessed the confrontation, which Mr Clarke said left him feeling hurt, upset, humiliated and shocked.

But during the trial, Mr Tatosian admitted he didn't actually see Mr Clarke eat or hide the prawns in his jacket, rather he assumed he had, and publicly made the allegations without giving Mr Clarke a chance to explain.

Judge Levy awarded Mr Clarke $40,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 aggravated compensatory damages because of the prolonged and repeated nature of the embarrassing and humiliating accusations he was subjected to for at least 10 minutes. Mr Clarke was also awarded interest and costs. Judge Levy dismissed the other causes of action.

Judge Levy said Coles' defence of qualified privilege failed because the other customers had no interest in hearing of the accusations, which could have been made discreetly

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By admin, ago

Public companies’ public enemies

Apparently it's becoming nearly unbearably inconvenient to be a public company.
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The spotlight's on management. They're required to disclose things, some of which they really may not want to be exposed. Hey, shareholders might even revolt and - gasp - vote against management and directors, vote against policies, vote against pay.

Some might even demand more disclosure on topics that they find material.

Oh, the humanity. How horrifying that issuing stock to the public might actually include being required to acknowledge the public who bought those shares.

These days, public companies' managements might not necessarily enjoy some of the public shamings going on. They might even feel like they have public enemies.

Public displays

Reuters' Felix Salmon recently penned a thought-provoking piece on "why going public sucks".

One of the more interesting things Salmon highlighted was a quote by Marc Andreessen, known for his founding of legendary browser company and 1990s IPO Netscape:

"Basically, it was pretty easy to be a public company in the '90s. Then the dot-com crash hits, then Enron and all of a sudden the politicians and corporate regulators started to take a closer look, placing more scrutiny on the management and boards of our public companies. Throw in a greater awareness and interest in shares, via various privatisations and demutualisations and our growing superannuation balances, and public companies moved from the business section to the front pages."

There's plenty of irony in a man talking about "bizarre governance things" when he's currently serving on the board of directors at Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), one of the best-known duds in the annals of current corporate governance.

Of course, many corporate managements and directors fight tooth and nail against "bizarre governance things" of all types since they give shareholders power and voice.

Facebook's (Nasdaq: FB) recent debacle of an IPO was shareholder-unfriendly right out of the gate; its dual-class stock structure gave young CEO Mark Zuckerberg the majority vote, rendering shareholder votes pretty toothless.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) recently moved to enact a triple-class stock structure.

Just "bizarre" enough to work

Salmon's piece switches emphasis away from governance and to the idea that the very notion of being public means opening the company up to public scrutiny.

He's right to bring up the point that the public market demands and even requires constant information so that it can give "a second-by-second verdict on what it thinks of your performance."

Salmon also points out that upon going public, "people stop thinking of them as companies, and start thinking about them as stocks."

The aforementioned thoughts give us things to think about as investors. Salmon's description of the short-term, speculative, trading mentality is absolutely legitimate.

The way many investors view stocks is the antithesis of taking an ownership interest in an actual company (and my use of the word "interest" has double meaning - we should most certainly be interested in what our companies actually do).

Many investors have gotten so far away from the idea of any long-term ownership sentiment that of course corporate managements have started to automatically view shareholders as unimportant and shareholder-friendly policies as simply "bizarre."

I have a funny feeling that business interests and managements have rejected calls for better policies as long as publicly held corporations have existed. And as long as investors didn't care what went on beyond the share price, I'm sure any kind of change has always seemed weird or even dangerous.

Remember, less than a century ago, investors weren't even necessarily given very reliable information since there were no clear rules about disclosure. I'll bet business leaders back then thought it was the end of the world. Obviously, it wasn't, and any true long-term investor appreciates the information disclosed in ASX announcements.

Foolish take-away

When companies desire access to the capital provided in the public market, their managements should realise what they must sacrifice for that option instead of complaining that shareholders want "bizarre" things that help protect their own interests.

Our companies are facing something of a moment of truth in the 'two-strikes' vote that shareholders have on executive pay – and it seems like boards are listening.

Meanwhile, we investors need to work on acting more like long-term shareholders than gamblers.

It would be nice if we could all make this deal. When it comes to the long-term health of our companies, shareholders, and all parties involved, public companies no longer viewing everyone else as public enemies might be just "bizarre" enough to work.

Are you looking for attractive dividend stock ideas? BusinessDay readers can click here to request a new free report entitled Secure Your Future with 3 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks.

Alyce Lomax is aMotley Fool in writer. You can follow The Motley Fool on Twitter. The Motley Fool's purpose is to educate, amuse and enrich investors. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691).

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The best Facebook friend of all

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Haitian triple jumper Samyr Laine is determined to give something back to his ravaged homeland and hopes that his old room mate at Harvard - Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg - can offer him the boost he needs.

Laine is just one of five Haitian athletes at the London Olympics representing the Caribbean nation, devastated two and a half years ago by an earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people and left one million homeless.

Three of Haiti's five very basic running tracks are housing the displaced. Millions live on less than two dollars a day.

Laine's parents moved to the United States in the 1970's, but Haiti is still clearly tugging at his heartstrings.

"I have to give. That is a necessity for me," the 28-year-old lawyer told Reuters as he prepared for his London challenge.

He is planning to set up a Jump For Haiti Foundation which would try, through training camps and clinics, to build a new generation of home-grown athletes to compete at future Olympics.

Competing with the world's best is a struggle for Haiti.

"The total budget for the Olympics is $400,000. In the United States it is $170 million," Laine said. "You have to be self-motivated. It does not have the resources and the bureaucracy hinders the athletes."

Talking of Haiti's five-strong team for London, he said: "We are really here on our own and got here on our own. It is very emotional. We are a tight group, we are very close."


For his foundation, Laine hopes his friends will help out.

At Harvard he shared a room with Zuckerberg, the billionaire founder of Facebook. Laine was the 14th person to sign up to the social media site.

"I will talk to him and I will talk to all of my friends," Laine said. "I am not going to ask him for any more than my other friends. But I hope his heart will move him. Having him behind the foundation would be a great, great help," he said.

Laine's family suffered agonies of uncertainty when the earthquake struck, not knowing what had happened to relatives.

"It took a full week to find out if everyone was safe," he said. "It felt like the longest week of my life. All you heard on CNN was about death tolls. You held your breath the whole time."

The family called on an aunt working for the Canadian government to help track down their loved ones.

"It was nerve-wracking. We had no contact with my grandparents. Their house was destroyed," he said.

But for now it is time to concentrate on the triple jump -- and Laine is very upbeat.

"I am 100 percent healthy. I am a viable medal hopeful," he said, after a promising pre-Olympic warm up at London's Crystal Palace. "My performances are peaking at the right time."

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Japan seeking revenge: Paul Watson

Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson has accused Japan of hunting him down in revenge for his attacks on its whaling operations, in his first comments since he jumped bail and fled Germany.
Nanjing Night Net

The militant environmentalist who is in hiding, says he felt betrayed by Germany, where he was under house arrest for 70 days, because it had negotiated with Japan to extradite him to Tokyo.

"I am very disappointed with the German government. For me it is obvious that the German government conspired with Japan and Costa Rica to detain me so that I could be handed over to the Japanese," he said on Tuesday in a message to his supporters.

Mr Watson, who for years has harassed Japan's annual whale hunt off Antarctica, was arrested in Germany in May for extradition to Costa Rica on charges stemming from a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002.

He was detained for a week before being released on bail. He was ordered to appear before police twice a day. But the 61-year-old skipped bail on July 22.

Mr Watson said Costa Rica and Germany had been "pawns in the Japanese quest to silence Sea Shepherd", which has for close to a decade clashed with harpoon ships in the Southern Ocean.

"This was never really about Costa Rica. It has been about Japan all along," he said.

"We have confronted the Japanese whalers for eight seasons and we have humiliated them at sea and more importantly we have frustrated their illegal profiteering from the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

"This is not about justice; it is about revenge."

Mr Watson, a white-haired Canadian national known as "Captain" to supporters, refused to reveal his location and said that if he was extradited to Japan he would "never be released".

"I am presently in a place on this planet where I feel comfortable, a safe place far away from the scheming nations who have turned a blind eye to the exploitation of our oceans," he wrote.

But he indicated that he would continue to harass Japanese harpoonists.

"I can serve my clients better at sea than in a Japanese prison cell and I intend to do just that," he wrote, saying that Sea Shepherd would sail on its ninth campaign against Japanese whalers in December.

Australia is the launch site for Sea Shepherd boats each year as they chase the Japanese whalers.


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