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AFLW: Collingwood v Carltonyour photos

HERstory in the making: Lockout crowd at Game 1 of Women’s AFL @lola_clare: Let’s go ladies! 🏉👱🏻‍♀️ #aflw #womensfooty #herstory
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@sarahonga: Foot is back 🏉🏉 not a bad way to spend a Friday #AFLW

@usconsulatemelb: We found a @richmond_fc supporter at the #aflwbluespies

@danaebosler Heading into history #aflw #collingwood


@the3winesmen: The people have spoken. Woman’s AFL is here to stay, and it’s about time.

@em_sibs: Withnessing history tonight with old rivals #aflw #bluesvspies

@sammyadams85: Witnessin’ history #AFLW #daisypearce

@joseph苏州夜场招聘nnellan: So it begins #afl #wafl

@hlancman: First game in HERSTORY #afl #wafl

@aliston12: First women’s AFL Game!!! 🤗

@silkwoodau: What an awesome turn up! #wafl @afl @carlton_fc

@jayne.darcy: 30 mins till kick off and it’s packed in the stands at Princes Park!

@joseph苏州夜场招聘nnellan: Waiting for history. Womens AFL Ikon Park Stadium in Princess Park, Carlton

@celestepotter: I have never had the slightest desire to attend an AFL match, but here we are- excited to be on our way to witness an historic moment.

@the_sam_e: #wafl

@blueovaljoe C’mon da woods! #cfc #aflw #wafl #magpies #collingwood Go pies!

@veritycampbellcomms: Women’s AFL starts tonight. What an historic moment.

@hannahgraces: Its happening! WAFL first game, history made 3/2/17!

@rbchikan: Cheer squad!! 💙💙🏉 #wafl #gonat #32 #carlton

@elana_monteleone: It’s good to be home. Let’s go Blues! #wafl

@madbart66: Blues V Pies. Wouldn’t matter if it was tiddlywinks #bluesvpies

@elana_monteleone: Waiting for history to be made. #gamechangers

@marksmithbriggs: History beckons #aflw #gopies

@__rounders__: Super excited for #aflw #gopies #aflwbluespies

@latchky: Go blues #carltonfc #aflw

@seanjokane: Here for the inaugural game! Get up Blues! @aflwomens #AFLW

@jane_izzy_design:s Go blues! So excited to watch history in the making!

@francesob: Go blues #footytime #AFLW #carltonfc

@phoeboob: “You play like girls. Really well.” #AFLW #gothepies

@kimberleyandco: AFL WOMENS #afl #aflw


@dazzheadspace: At Princess Park with 3 generations of Pies Diehards @collingwood_fc

@sarsyj: #numberonefans #gohutchy #gopies

@madirobinson_: What an incredible moment in sports history to be apart of. Come on @collingwood_fc #AFLW

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Newcastle council begins detailed investigations and deep soil testing at homes above the old gasworks site in Waratah

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Crews drilled at properties in Waratah on Friday. Picture: Marina Neil
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A “detailed” investigationhas begun that will see around 200 samples taken from land believed to have been tainted with toxic chemicals from a former gasworks at Waratah.

An earlyround of testing saw shallow soil sampled from backyards but the second round will see deeper soil examined, along with vapour and groundwater.

The investigations are targeting an area bounded by High Street, Turton Road and Georgetown Road and a council spokesperson said they would provide “a better understanding of the nature and extent of gasworks-related substances, and what mitigation measures, if any, may be needed.”

“The samples will be tested for a wide range of substances associated with gasworks,” he said. “Additional shallow soil sampling will also be undertaken on public land within 500 metresof the gasworks’ footprint.”

People within the investigation area are being told not to eat vegetables or eggs from their properties, avoid having areas of uncovered soil, to minimise exposure to soil during gardening and to raise any sand pits or garden beds above the ground level.

A resident who did not wish to be named said she felt the jury was out until she received the results from the second round of testing.

Initial tests had already shown high levels of at least four toxic chemicals at her property, including lead.

“It’s good that they’ve got the ball rolling because this is all about our children’sfuture at the end of the day. I’ve got a son who was born here and some familieshave been on this street for generations.

“I’m just hoping and praying that it all works out.”


Robert Dillon: Sporting Declaration

DOWN AND OUT: Newcastle midfielder Ben Kantarovski receives treatment after injuring his knee against Sydney in December. Picture: Marina NeilHE has played more games for the Newcastle Jets than any other player, but injury-plagued Ben Kantarovski faces an uncertain future as he battles to regain a spot in the team.
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Kantarovski has not played since the round-nine loss to Sydney on December 4, which was his 135thappearance for Newcastle, overtaking former teammate Tarek Elrich’s club record.

He underwent arthroscopic surgery days later to repair torn cartilage in his problematic right knee, which has now required four operations, including a full reconstruction in 2010 when he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

Kantarovski has since resumed training, although the club’s website says he will not be available for another week.

But at a frank press conference on Thursday, Jets coach Mark Jones indicatedthe 25-year-old midfielder was no longer a selection priority.

“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know why Kanta keeps getting brought up,’’ Jones said.

“Kanta is just another one of the squad members.

“He’s played limited game time this year and he’s not a vital link in us playing well or not playing well …that’s the trouble, if you sit out for a long period of time through injuries, you start to drop down the pecking order.’’

Olyroos representative Steven Ugarkovic and experienced Mateo Poljak are seemingly established as Newcastle’s holding midfielders, having each featured in 16 of Newcastle’s 17 games this season.

With Ugarkovic out suspended for Saturday’s clash with Perth, rookie Johnny Koutroumbis gets a chance in his preferred position.

“Johnny Koutrombis has done a magnificent job and I think he’s earned the right to be the next cab off the rank,’’ Jonessaid.

“I’m very keen to see what Johnny does.’’

Koutroumbis and Ugarkovic have both signed two-seasoncontract extensions, while Kantarovski is one of several Newcastle players who are effectively free agents and open to offers.

The dilemma facing Kantarovski is how to state a case for reinstatement, given that he mighthave limited opportunity to gain match fitness in the 10 remaining regular-seasonfixtures before the play-offs.

Players returning from injury often get to stretch their legs in Newcastle’s youth team, but the youth league season is over. Adding to his quandary, each week on the sidelines is unlikely to enhance his bargaining position for a new deal.

A former Young Socceroos skipper who debuted in the A-League at 16, Kantarovski would appear to have reached something of a career crossroads.

His future may well hinge on how successfully the surgeons have been able to patch up his knee, a recurring issue that has sadlyprevented him from reaching the heights many were predicting during his formative years.

His latest setback leaves both the Jets and Kantarovski pondering a tough decision.

Can he become a long-term asset for his home-town club, and possibly a future captain?

Or is it time for a fresh start, in the hope that new surroundsallowhim to realise his potential?

Either way, Sporting Declaration hopes Ben Kantarovski’s best football is still ahead of him.

He’s had a wretched run. That, unfortunately, is part of the game, but nobody would appear more entitled to a change ofluck.

RISKY BUSINESSTHEY are great for fans and the broadcasters, but the annual Auckland Nines and All Stars exhibitions are a recipe for disaster.

Over the next two weekends, the NRL’s most highly paidsuperstars will go hammer and tong in two events that count for nothing on grand final day.

And if anyone gets injured, their clubs are handicapped before a ball has been kicked in the season proper. It’s madness.

Injuries, of course, can happen at any time.

But players, coaches and supporters can probably accept such setbacks as par for the course if two competition points are at stake.

FOOD FOR THOUGHTIT couldn’t happen, could it?

No matter how badly the Knights are travelling, no matter how many wooden spoons they collect or how long they remain without an owner, the NRL needs a team in Newcastle and would never abandon this rugby league stronghold.

Or would they?

News from America might make you think twice. After 56 years in San Diego, the Chargers’ NFL franchise is moving to Los Angeles, basically because the owner has found a bigger stadium. Food for thought as “Our Knights One Chance” organisers rally support for a community-ownership model.


Easter Island: The island at the end of the Earth

Easter Island’s staple industry is tourism, which pulls in about 90,000 visitors a year. Around 95 per cent of the island’s known monolithic sculptures (moai) were carved from stone quarried from Rano Raraku, a volcanic crater formed of consolidated volcanic ash, or tuff, located in the Rapa Nui National Park. Photo: iStock
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Crater Volcano Rano Kau in Easter Island.

For ns, Easter Island may well seem a long way to travel for a small Polynesian island bereft of palm trees and luscious stretches of white, powdery beaches, its iconic stone statues so instantly recognisable that it dwarfs all other attractions.

After all, this is the most isolated permanently inhabited place on earth, a speck of volcanic mounds in a vast ocean. To put its 163 square kilometres into perspective, a marathon runner recently sweated his way around the entire island in just one day, our guide assures us.

The nearest island is Pitcairn, almost 2000 kilometres away, and the only entry point for tourists is via Chile – which Easter Island belongs to – or Tahiti, both around five hours’ flight away. Cruise liners occasionally swing by, but the waters are often too rough for passengers to land.

Yet it’s this stark isolation that fuels the mystique of Easter Island, also known by its indigenous name, Rapa Nui, and Spanish name, Isla de Pascua​ (useful information when you’re trying to locate your departure flight in Santiago).

Today, tourism is the island’s staple industry, pulling in around 90,000 visitors a year, nearly a quarter of those cramming the hiking paths, small township and main tourist attractions in the peak season of January/February, reaching a crescendo during the 10-day Tapati cultural festival. Yet it was the feverish building of colossal stone statues, the moai, that occupied the early settlers of Rapa Nui, and it’s these mysterious monoliths that draw in the crowds.

A great starting point for any curious visitor is the little one-room archaeological museum in the island’s only township of Hanga Roa, where most of the population of 8000 live. It answers my burning question of how on earth a band of Polynesian seafarers in canoes even stumbled upon an island so remote, yet alone went on to inhabit it.

It turns out they were extraordinary navigators, using the stars primarily, but also marine currents, wind directions and the travel routes of nesting birds to locate new islands. There’s sketches of the high-sea canoes it’s believed they used to reach Rapa Nui and later colonise it somewhere between 800 and 1200AD – around the same time these seafaring Polynesians were populating New Zealand (800 to 1000AD).

That certainly accounts for the amazing cultural similarities to the maori haka we witnessed when we were placed front row at a traditional show in town. For our delicate, jet-lagged troupe, it was a visceral onslaught – stomping, victorious roars, and men in loin cloths and tribal paint, thrusting batons wide-eyed in front of us.

The museum, of course, also has lots of background on the moai, built by a highly spiritual people to salute their ancestors. Of the 887 known moai, nearly all carved from volcanic rock at the Rano Raraku quarry in the island’s south-east, nearly half remain in the quarry in various stages of completion; 288 were successfully transported and erected on the familiar Ahu stone altars located at coastal spots around the island. The largest one ever erected, called Paro, is nearly 10 metres high and weighs in at a hefty 74 tonnes. But El Gigante, which is still attached to bedrock in the quarry, takes top honours, at 21.6 metres high and an estimated 170 tonnes.

The statue building came to an abrupt end around the 17th century, when tribal war broke out, most likely sparked by environmental carnage and dwindling resources. By the time the first Europeans arrived in 1722, the forests of palm trees were gone, exposing the volcanic soil to erosion and creating the barren landscape you see today.

It’s late April when we visit Rapa Nui: autumn, and the crowds have gone, the hiking trails are blissfully empty and it’s balmy T-shirt weather. Who’d be bothered with high season, I ask myself? At Explora, one of the island’s handful of luxury lodgings, our guide for the four days is trained psychologist Carolina, whose infectious exuberance and detailed knowledge of Easter Island is a product of both her own natural curiosity and Explora’s strict screening and training of their guides, who often rotate between sister Explora properties in Chile’s Atacama Desert (temporarily closed due to a fire) and Patagonia. It’s three months of intensive learning and tests, so there’s no question you can fire at Carolina that doesn’t return a decisive, detailed and colourful explanation.

The hotel is among rare farming land, about 10 minutes’ drive from town, with all 30 rooms enjoying elevated views of the coastline. However, the emphasis – like all Explora properties – is on getting you out and about, so every evening guests gather to choose their outing for the following day.

There’s a choice of half-day or full-day excursions. By the time you leave, you will almost definitely have done the compulsory trip to Rano Raraku quarry and nearby Fifteen Moai at Ahu Tongariki​. There’s a half-day hike to the highest point on the island, with spectacular 360-degree views; and a trip to the underground caves where many of the tribes once lived, which takes in petroglyphs, offering a fascinating insight into how the early Rapa Nui lived.

The highlight for me was the 10km half-day hike to the crater lake of Rano Kau on a crystal clear morning, the walk hugging the cliffs up a fairly steady incline that tested the stamina of us mostly middle-aged crew of varying fitness levels. After navigating a rock-strewn path for a couple of hours, I certainly appreciated why walking sticks are handed out so liberally and spares carried by the guides. They’re a godsend for the knees.

Hiking the windswept fringes only seemed to reinforce a liberating sense of isolation.  A blindingly blue sea thunders against craggy cliffs that butt up against vibrant red volcanic earth, much of it exposed by persistent erosion. Scrubland best sums up the rest.

Suddenly Carolina halts us in our tracks. “Close your eyes, hang onto the person in front and follow me.” We gingerly follow orders and stumble forwards. “Okay, open  your eyes!” Here, on the edge of the cliffs, we’re peering down into the one-kilometre-wide Rano Kau crater lake. Windex-blue patches of water pierce through giant clumps of floating plants. It’s utterly spectacular. After the frenzy of camera-clicking ceases, we pause to hear how the tradition of the Birdman was born here after the statue building ceased; the dawn of a new social order. The short version is that a nominated member of each of the island’s tribes would swim out to the islet just offshore each September, when the seabirds migrated here, and whoever secured the first egg would secure his tribal leader ruling rights for the next year.

This islet takes on even greater significance when Carolina assures us there’s visibility of up to 50 metres if you want to snorkel around the rocky outcrop. As an avid lap swimmer, I immediately picture the length of an Olympic-sized swimming pool and imagine staring that far into azure blue with perfect visibility.

The expedition concludes with a visit to nearby Orongo, on the lip of the crater, the ceremonial village used by the Rapa Nui people during the Birdman era.

Today, it’s a collection of weathered stone houses and petroglyphs set on a brutally exposed clifftop. A snippet at the information centre brings home the fragility of not just these structures, but all the island’s moai and rock carvings. “In a period of just 97 years, extreme weather has caused deterioration of the petroglyphs … details have disappeared: edgings of the engravings, the borders of every detail … thus we have a clear idea of the damage caused by natural factors.”

It doesn’t augur well for the moai, their features already severely blunted by the elements, clawing lichen and their precarious coastal locations. I feel privileged to have walked among giants that one day will inevitably be reclaimed by nature. TRIP NOTESMORE



southamericatourism苏州夜总会招聘 GET

LAN Airlines operates daily flights between Sydney and Santiago via Auckland. There are flights to Easter Island from Santiago every day except Tuesday. n citizens pay a reciprocity fee of US$117 on arrival in Santiago. latam苏州夜总会招聘. STAY

The Explora Hotel Posada de Mike Rapu Easter Island is an all-inclusive, 30-room hotel (all meals and beverages and daily excursions with bilingual guides are included). Curved, glass-fronted pavilions housing the bar, restaurant and lounging areas offer panoramic ocean views. There’s also a massage room, outdoor pool and spa. Three-night packages from $2538 a person, twin-share.  See explora苏州夜总会招聘. GET AROUND

There is no public transport on Easter Island, probably because nearly everyone lives in town. There’s a sealed road around much of the island and rougher roads lead to less accessible areas. Explora includes free transport to attractions. However, for those who want their own wheels, the hotel has bicycles. Otherwise, there’s a fleet of rental places on the main street of Hanga Roa. Prices aren’t cheap. You can rent a scooter for about 25,000CLP a day (motorcycle licence required); cars start from around 45,000CLP.

Isobel King travelled courtesy of South America Tourism Office and LATAM Airlines.


Tissue-based drama This is Us swollen with the milk of human kindness

An authentic world full of real people: This is Us stars Milo Ventimiglia as Jack. Photo: NBC Once upon a time there was a logic in television that grouped programs into two distinct classes: those that were obvious and unsophisticated, and those that spoke in a more articulate, authentic language. Think Full House for the former. And Love My Way for the latter.
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This Is Us (Wednesdays, 8.30pm, Ten), the buzzy new American series about a bunch of inter-connected, mostly pretty people, sharing personal and professional moments in their otherwise compelling lives, somehow manages to be both.

The pilot episode introduces you to a jumble of characters whose connections are not immediately obvious, though a more experienced viewer can probably take a wild but accurate guess. They include Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley), Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia).

By the end of episode one, assuming you’re not speed-dialling your therapist to unload all of your trigger-issues, you will have one of those “oh, right, that’s how they’re all connected” moments, which somehow seems to be both inventively unexpected and coming right at you with all the delicacy of a gorilla in ballet shoes.

Dan Fogelman has crafted here are nicely authentic world, full of characters who speak like real people, unlike their traditional television cousins who speak like television characters. At the same time he’s cranking hard on the pedal-o-issue machine, perhaps with a ferocity not seen since the giddy old days of ’80s medical masterpiece St Elsewhere.

In that sense, it has all of the elegance of Love My Way, but somehow lacks the brilliance. That show, a trail-blazing drama from Foxtel in the early noughties, found a rare balance that allowed it to deeply mine human drama without ever falling victim to the schmaltz within it.

It wouldn’t be fair to This Is Us to say that it fails entirely on that front, but being American, it seems to sit on the precipice.

And the fact that the biggest existential crisis in the pilot episode is the terrifying prospect of turning 36 suggests there is indeed a new generation of television writers coming through the ranks with a very interesting notion of what constitutes a mid-life calamity.

The immediate touchstones for a show like This Is Us are the ’80s high-collar-and-mussed-hair classic Thirtysomething, and its ’90s stepchild, the heavily sentimental Once and Again. Chuck in some touches of Modern Family and even Everwood and you’ve got a palette with a fairly accurate set of colours.

But there is something wholly deliberate about This Is Us that undermines its brilliance, a sense of artful deliberacy to its moments of unexpected tenderness than leaves you bothered that your emotions are being played with, and weeping into a box of tissues, usually in the same moment.

Even Thirtysomething, which seemed to milk its emotions hard, had the virtue of making it all look effortless.

Ventimiglia is the show’s strongest suit but, thanks to a quirk of the storytelling, he’s not deployed across the whole ensemble. Which leaves too many scenes more reminiscent of a teen drama, and full of Hollywood meta-references and things that only feel substantial because they’re written as though they are.

As the first season’s narrative unfurls, This Is Us starts swimming in more stable water. And the writing is rock solid, even if the show’s tendency to dip into more treacly emotions is not.


Flight Test: Air Canada

Onboard the Air Canada 787-9 Dreamliner. Photo: Brian Losito/Air CanadaOur rating: 4/5
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Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner


New York (Newark) to Vancouver


Air Canada Altitude, part of Star Alliance.


Economy class, seat 25K.


Five hours, 40 minutes.


Air Canada offers one direct daily flight from New York (Newark) to Vancouver, leaving at 7pm and getting in at 9.40pm. If you’re prepared to endure a multi-hour layover, there are numerous earlier flights via Toronto.


Economy features a 3-3-3 configuration of pleasantly comfortable seats which squeak and spring like a new sofa. Each seat is 43.9cm wide (17 inches) with up to a 78.7-cm pitch (31 inches), depending on the row. The seats recline 12.7cm, which, combined with the ample leg space, is just enough for me to stretch out my 1.8 metre body without causing a commotion.


Air Canada charges CAD$25 for the first checked bag of up to 23 kilograms, and CAD$35 for the second. Unless this flight is part of a longer international journey, as mine is, in which case two checked bags are free.


There are several features about this plane that draw more of my attention than they usually would. The first is ventilation, which is excellent. I never feel stuffy or dry – two conditions that plague me on many long-distance flights. The windows are also remarkable, some 65 per cent larger than standard airplane windows. There are no shutters. Instead, electrified gel sandwiched under the glass brightens or dims on command, like a pair of smart sunglasses. I am obsessed.


The seatback touchscreen is big, clear, and responsive. Written material boasts some 600 hours of film, TV, and music, though the selection feels a little more limited in practice, particularly when it comes to current movies. A nice touch is the 2016 Air Canada enRoute Film Festival, though, which offers a variety of Canadian films from three to 17 minutes in length. Each display has a USB port for charging your own devices.


Have you ever met an unfriendly Canadian? Not on an Air Canada flight, at any rate. The crew members are chatty and smiley; one woman spies my neighbour reading sheet music and engages her in a length conversation about Bach; another distributes activity books for kids with all the jolly benevolence of Santa.


Air Canada Cafe tantalises you with art-directed pictures of its food on the touchscreen display. Nothing ever looks this good, of course, and also it costs money – a surprise on a nearly six-hour flight across an international border. After realising there are no free snacks (not even a pretzel), I cave and purchase a sriracha chicken wrap for $CAD7.50; it is thin and of questionable texture. Alcohol also costs money – another death blow.


As of late last year, even transiting through Canada requires an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), at a cost of $CAD7. The ludicrous formality must be processed in advance, a fact that has been poorly publicised by Air Canada to its customers, many of whom (like me) have found themselves frantically applying on their mobile phones at the airport. Be careful: incorrect information locks you out for 72 hours.


A gorgeous plane and gracious service is let down by the frugality of air travel in North America, where even minor comforts (a snack) come with a price tag. But if you’re travelling onwards to , never fear: All is corrected in the next leg, where wine flows freely all the way to Brisbane.

Lance Richardson paid for his own flight.


Siren song of the Amalfi Coast

Terrace of the oyster bar at Le Sirenuse hotel in Positano.From Naples the road slinks improbably around the coastline, skirting past Sorrento and heaving over a headland before corkscrewing above a blue sea. Positano is jammed into a fold in the cliffs, and looks as if it could easily slide down with a clatter onto its beach far below. There is only space for a one-way road, and it plunges halfway down the town before surging up again, scraping by cafe chairs, postcard racks and wayside statues of the Virgin Mary.
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Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is for visitors with a head for heights and who are confident behind the steering wheel. With relief I leave my car with Le Sirenuse’s bellboy. Where it goes is anyone’s guess; flat land for car parks is as rare as reindeer here. Mostly, in this cliff-clinging town, I tumble down steps and huff-puff back up again on foot, alternatively enclosed in canyon-like streets or propelled onto pocket-sized terraces with views over vertiginous rooftops to shockingly blue-green water.

Le Sirenuse opened in 1951 in a converted aristocratic house, and is still owned by the same family. Somehow it has found room to expand, oozing like calcium deposits down the cliff and taking over neighbouring buildings. The result is a warren-like hotel over eight floors, crammed with art works and antiques. Every cranny is mopped and polished. Prints and family oil portraits line the walls, pillows are plump, restaurant tablecloths starched as a pope’s robes. The candlelit, Michelin-starred La Sponda restaurant features fish sprinkled with zucchini flowers and Mediterranean lamb encrusted with rosemary. The pool terrace, shaded by lemon trees, is surely one of the world’s best.

Guestrooms have swallow’s nest balconies entwined in vines and bougainvillea, and Positano’s finest outlooks. The peacock sea far below gets more beautiful as the day progresses. At sunset, after the day-tripper boats have departed, the silvery water is scribbled over by the wakes of the odd speedboat. I feel like leaping off my balcony, like the cliff-divers of Acapulco, and into its limpid loveliness.

The views are everything in Positano, and Le Sirenuse knows it. The hotel does everything superlatively but always accepts that its service and luxuries are second fiddle to the landscape. It’s rather lovely that staff gardeners take you on a tour of the rare flowering plants that grace the hotel terraces, but my attention constantly drifts away to the Mediterranean. And though the breakfast spread isp first-class, its terrace location is so fabulous you’d hardly notice if you were served sawdust.

Actually, you’re served a banquet to delight Nero that, in the Italian style, features a temptation of cakes. I assuage my guilt by walking off my indulgences with a 2000-step haul up to Nocelle, a cloud-enveloped village surrounded by terraces of tomato vines and lemon trees.

Later I explore Positano itself. It’s an old town, once part of the medieval Amalfi maritime republic that rivalled Venice for trade, now jammed with shops selling ceramics and art works. I climb past an old watchtower on a track lined with cactus and bougainvillea to Spiaggia del Fornillo, a quiet cove where striped parasols lean in the sand.

There’s a lot you can do on the Amalfi Coast. I spend a day driving hairpin bends along the coast to Amalfi town. A hydrofoil will whisk you from Positano to Capri for the day, and Pompeii is a drive away. Le Sirenuse offers complimentary activities that change daily: a visit to a limoncello producer, olive-oil tasting, a trip to the seafood market with its chef.

The best is a trip along the coast in the hotel’s gleaming vintage wooden boat Sant’Antonio. The perspective of the Amalfi Coast from the water is quite different from on land, and you can go swimming. The boat stops in a cove and its passengers leap overboard into the big blue. Afterwards the captain hands out bellini cocktails and we sail back to Positano, sleepy with sun, salt and the good life. TRIP NOTESMORE



Emirates flies from Sydney and Melbourne to Dubai (14.5 hours) with connections to Rome (six hours). Phone 1300 303 777, see emirates苏州夜总会招聘/auDRIVE

Leading n self-drive specialist DriveAway Holidays offers car hire in Italy from about $30 a day for a mid-sized vehicle. Phone 1300 723 972, see driveaway苏州夜总会招聘.auSTAY

Le Sirenuse is a member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World brand. Rooms from $858, including boat excursion and other activities. Phone 02 9377 8444, see lhw苏州夜总会招聘

Brian Johnston was a guest of Leading Hotels of the World and DriveAway Holidays, but paid for his own flights.


Bankstown terror teen tried to join Islamic State on family holiday, court hears

The two teenagers were allegedly arrested with two bayonet knives and a note pledging allegiance to Islamic State. Photo: 7 News One of the M-9 bayonet knives for sale at Bankstown Gun Shop.
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One of the 16-year-old boys, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was filmed abusing police as he sat handcuffed in Adnum Lane on October 12. Photo: 7 News

One of the boys, in white, uploaded videos of him converting other young people to Islam. Photo: Facebook

Police guard the laneway where the two boys were arrested in October. Photo: Christopher Pearce

The boy on the street in Bankstown before his arrest. Photo: Channel 7

It was supposed to be a family holiday to discover his homeland of Egypt.

But when a Sydney teenager was detained and tortured after he allegedly ran away to join Islamic militants during the disastrous trip, the holiday led to a mental breakdown, his father claims.

Nine months after returning to , the boy was one of two youths who was arrested in Bankstown last year, allegedly moments away from an Islamic State-inspired knife attack.

Chilling details of the Bankstown plot can be revealed for the first time following a court hearing in which the boy’s father painted a sad picture of his son’s descent into radicalisation.

The two 16-year-old school friends, who cannot be named due to their age, were arrested in October outside a laneway prayer hall and charged with preparing for a terrorist act and membership of a terrorist organisation.

They allegedly had a backpack containing a torch, a knife sharpener, two camouflage-print neck gaiters, a handwritten Arabic note pledging allegiance to the caliphate and two hunting knives bought earlier that day from the Bankstown Gun Shop.

The second boy, the stepson of a convicted extremist and a counter-terrorism target since the age of 12, had a video on his phone in which he held down a sheep as its neck was slashed with a knife, Parramatta Children’s Court heard this week.

During an unsuccessful bail application this week, it was revealed that the first boy was detained in Egypt for a month after trying to escape a family holiday to join Islamic militants in the Sinai region.

He returned to in January 2016 with the help of the n ambassador to Egypt. His father said his son was tortured in detention and spiralled downward after his return.

“Since Egypt, he’s having a hard time,” he told the court. “I said I would send him to a psychologist and everything would be all right.”

Among the items found on his phone on his return were internet searches on “going jihad when parents are alive” and “Sinai ISIS” and an article titled “Jihadi John’s journey from schoolboy to executioner”, according to police allegations.

During 2016, the boy dropped out of school, ran away from home several times, was the subject of several police “child at risk” reports, slept rough at Central station for a week and had an AVO out against him to protect his mother after he allegedly punched a glass cabinet at home.

After the family’s Parramatta home was raided in February, he said he wanted to be homeless, his father said.

Both boys have been on counter-terrorism radars for years and were being followed by police on the day of their arrest.

They both left their high school in 2014 due to an incident and the second boy turned to distance education while the first boy’s father tried to get him into several schools, eventually enrolling him in an inner west high school in 2016.

The second boy was intercepted on the phone in 2015 telling his mother he wanted to “outdo” the shooting of police accountant Curtis Cheng.

Last year, he was observed to be among a small group of attendees at a Friday prayer session run by well-known counter-terrorism target Wissam Haddad.

In a recording played by prosecutors during the bail application, he was filmed abusing police as he sat handcuffed in Adnum Lane, Bankstown on October 12.

“Whatever Allah orders me to do I’m going to do it,” he said.

“Anyone who works with the police is an apostate dog … youse are nothing but a bunch of pigs and we are going to rule this earth by sharia … all you pigs, inshallah, I will see you burn alive in hellfire.”

The pair had allegedly bought two bayonet knives earlier that day. Unable to find a bag to conceal them, the first boy was seen chucking his school books, pencil case and calculator in a bin and putting the knives in his backpack.

The pair then caught a bus to the Adnum Lane prayer hall for what police allege were their final prayers and ablution.

In the police recording taken in the laneway, the second boy said he bought the knives to go hunting.

He also said popular youth leader Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman and ‘s Grand Mufti were “apostate dogs” because they worked with the government and he told the police that their children and wives would become slaves when Islam takes over.

The boys’ barrister, Geoffrey Foster, said the case contained “a lot of circumstantial fluff” and content intended to “besmirch their character” and invent a “sinister plot”.

However Magistrate Katherine Thompson denied bail, saying the first boy had a track record of disobeying authority while the second boy showed contempt for government and police, making it unlikely they would show up for future appearances.

An application to suppress Tuesday’s bail application was dismissed on Friday.


PM-in-wanting Tony Abbott lacks credibility to restore good government

As Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott’s utter resistance and simple oppositionism was designed to make effective government impossible, and to cause the collapse of Gillard’s working agreements with independents and minor parties. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe modern n Senate, according to the former prime minister Tony Abbott, has ceased to be a house of review and has become instead a house of rejection. As ever when he is making thoughtful and helpful contributions to his determination to see the re-election of the Turnbull government, he has a solution for every problem.
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Abbott still seems to think that he is the person to whom the party would turn if or when it has become obvious that the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull is irretrievable. It is by no means clear that the Liberal Party has such a death-wish (or even that there is coup talk), but Abbott can sustain himself in his hopes and dreams because there are no obvious candidates jockeying for the leadership, or with talents so obvious that the party would necessarily look their way.

Sixteen months ago, Abbott awoke from deposition hangover, and pledged that there would be no undermining of the man to whom the Liberal Party had turned after it had despaired of Abbott. He didn’t mean it then, and he does not now. That does not mean that his every utterance, or every effort to be heard or noticed, is part of a conscious strategy or tactic focused at a return bout. Some of it comes from mere relevance deprivation. Some of it comes from his habitual tendency to pyromania, brainfarts and efforts to demonstrate his unique affinity with, and ear for, what the average n is thinking. Some comes from an effort to protect his reputation and legacy, a project that is made to seem more logical given that Turnbull has made no significant changes, other than in style, to the policies of the old Abbott government.

But anyone who doubts that Abbott is waiting for the call should look at some of his recent rousing speeches, for example Monday’s address to the Young Liberal Party convention, available on his website. Nor would one have to be of the party’s conservative wing to note that however flyblown the rhetoric, he remains a better and more convincing advocate for his party than his successor.

It helps, of course, that Abbott can pick and choose which Liberal policies and programs he defends or questions, and is not the world’s most accurate witness to the style and achievement of his period in office. Or, for that matter, to his record in opposition, of creating a type of hyperpartisanship and oppositionism that has led to what he now describes as a crisis in government.

It may not be entirely due to Abbott genius. The style is very similar to that adopted earlier in the United States, where Republicans decided to block everything put up by the Democrats, willing at times to bring the public administration to a halt, or to simply refuse even to consider negotiation, compromise, or the ratification of appointments. The end point of that strategy is not only the election of President Donald Trump, or the gulf between the major political parties, but deep division in the population, public despair about politicians, elites and the political class, and despair about whether the old system of constitutional checks and balances – which depend on a willingness to compromise – can endure.

No one played the game as hard as Abbott when he was leader of the opposition. All the more so when a minority Gillard government was elected, and, as Abbott saw it, Gillard usurped power by corrupt blandishments to independents who morally ought to have supported him. Abbott’s utter resistance and simple oppositionism was designed to make effective government impossible, and to cause the collapse of Gillard’s working agreements with independents and minor parties.

Abbott failed, in the sense that Gillard was remarkably effective in finding winning combinations with the Senate backbench, and was successful with much of her legislative agenda. Yet he succeeded mightily in creating a constant sense of crisis, embattlement and bitterness, and political illegitimacy, about Gillard. It was hardly surprising that Labor calculatedly decided to return the compliment in 2013, when an Abbott government was elected, if with a renewed Senate crossbench with as much claim as he to a mandate of resisting Abbott’s policies.

The architect of this chaos now insists that governments – he means parties with House of Representatives majorities – must be allowed to govern. Executive government must be allowed to implement the policies it sees as necessary. For Abbott, this is not even something that starts with a mandate theory, because he thinks that governments must also be empowered to respond to fresh events.

“Good government is much harder than it used to be,” he now sees. “We’ve become less like Westminster and more like Washington. Unlike Britain but like the US, the n government can no longer expect to get its legislation through the Parliament.

“In fact, our Wash-minster model has the worst of both worlds: like Washington, there can be no expectation of passing contentious legislation; unlike Washington there can be no expectation of security of tenure for the head of government.

“These days n prime ministers, especially centre-right ones, don’t just have to win elections, make sensible decisions and run competent administrations; they have to negotiate every piece of contentious legislation line-by-line through a Senate with an in-built populist majority…

“It’s almost impossible to win four senators out of six in any state (because that needs 57 per cent of the vote), so it’s almost impossible for the government of the day to have a Senate majority in its own right…

“It’s much easier for crossbench senators (surviving on just 5 to 10 per cent of the vote) to play politics than it is for them to take responsibility for cutting spending, upsetting lobby groups, and reducing taxes on businesses and high-income earners.”

What we need to do, apparently, is to drop the double dissolution provisions in the existing constitution, and to substitute a provision calling for a joint sitting of the existing houses of Parliament if a Senate has twice rejected government proposals over three months. Section 57 of the existing constitution deals with repeated Senate refusal to pass government legislation by having both houses of Parliament dissolved, with a joint sitting of the new Parliament being held if the Senate persists in rejecting the legislation.

The political risk to recalcitrant senators is that long-term senators, looking to a term extending through the next as well as the present Parliament, might become more realistic, pragmatic or willing to compromise if they had to face the risk of losing their seat when both long- and short-term senators are up for re-election.

That is, of course, a risk that must be weighed against the opportunity presented by an election for all senators: in all of the states, if not in the territories, the quota for election halves, increasing the possibility that a senator who has made her or his name might get enough votes to be re-elected. Last year’s double dissolution election is a good example of the risk. The government was returned with a House of Representatives majority of one, a worse position than before. And the population of affirmed their desire for a Senate containing a large (indeed larger) number of ratbags, minor party and independent senators, making negotiation of legislation through the Parliament even more difficult.

If Turnbull has had marginally more success than Abbott did in persuading crossbench senators to support his government’s program, that has not been a result of his double dissolution gamble, which must be counted a failure. It is instead a reflection of the fact that Turnbull government ministers have been more open, consultative and willing to compromise with crossbench senators than was Abbott, who generally only went through the rituals of consultation.

There is, of course, both compromise and surrender. Some Turnbull government successes, in getting through the building and construction industry authority, for example, involved the effective gutting of the government’s original proposal. About the most that could be said after the great compromise was that there, on paper, was the agency that Howard had created, Gillard had abolished, Abbott had threatened to restore, and which Turnbull had tried, rather ineffectually, to make the pivotal issue of the election.

There was another problem, of course. Strictly, Turnbull could have convened a joint sitting, only the second in ‘s history, had the Senate persisted with its rejection of the ABCC legislation. But that was unlikely to get tougher legislation, given that the government’s majority in the House of Representatives was so thin.

“We do need an effective Senate for when governments get it wrong,” Abbott says, lest anyone accuses him of undermining the role of the Senate. “The Senate has a right and duty to hold the government to account.

“But the government also has a right and duty to put in place the policy that the country needs, including – sometimes – policy that wasn’t a specific election mandate.

“Differences between the government and its opponents in the Senate should be resolved by the people at the next election. They shouldn’t be allowed to stop the government from doing what, after due consideration and full debate, it believes is in the national interest.

“In the end, the government of the day has to be allowed to govern – and not with one hand tied behind its back because its legislation can’t pass.

“Do we want an that’s capable of hard-but-needed reform, as in the Hawke-Howard era of relatively amenable senates; or an that increasingly resembles Italy with a revolving door prime ministership and an inability to get things done because of gridlock between the two houses of Parliament?

“The need to negotiate so much past a crossbench of critics and rivals makes the government look impotent if it fails; and weak and unprincipled even if it succeeds.

“It’s no wonder people are losing faith in sensible centre-right politics. To win people back and to restore faith in our system of government, we’ve got to give ourselves more chance to succeed.

“So let’s get on with it, so that our country can have the government it needs and so that in 2017 our political system can start to recover from the trauma of the past few years.”

Somehow I cannot see the idea taking either the Senate or the electorate by storm. Least of all when it comes from Abbott.

But it is worth wondering whether the development of minor parties, governments without control of the Senate, and the increasing acrimony in politics requires some new responses, if only to cut through the logjams. Two-party systems are in decline everywhere except in the US, and even there, something must soon break. Most of the nations of Europe are now governed by coalitions in which parties must continually talk and compromise if practical administration is not to be paralysed.

is unusual for the strength and rigidity of its party discipline. Labor or Liberal, parties do not respect independence of mind or character: elected representatives are expected to vote as one. Yet the unifying principles of the major parties do not necessarily have to depend on everyone being of the same mind about freedom of speech, social legislation, or about climate change, the future of agriculture or the need for submarines. It might well be that there would be much more flexibility, and room for compromise, in modern politics if parties confined themselves to a narrower field in which they insisted that everyone was bound by Caucus solidarity.

It might also help if the House of Representatives, as much as the Senate, lifted its game to be a real debating chamber and forum of idea. It is in the representatives that governments are made and unmade, but in practice, once a government is made, it is the ministry – the executive government – which controls the chamber, the agenda and the parliamentary timetable. A government that placed more focus on the role of the parliamentarian, the backbencher, the argument and the rationale might have more chance of enlisting some sympathy and help from voters and from senators. But I would hardly expect that voters, or politicians, would be looking to Abbott for inspiration for this change of approach.

Jack Waterford is a former Canberra Times editor.


Wrecking ball: With Steve Bannon, the power behind Donald Trump, it’s ‘always noon at the OK Corral’

Steve Bannon: “The most malevolent voice in the US President’s head.” Photo: Ron SachsWashington: Malcolm Turnbull can’t complain too much. Donald Trump did lash out at the n prime minister, but at least Turnbull was spared the muscle-flexing invasion threat that the new commander-in-chief was dishing out to others – in the case of Mexico, to stomp out drug barons; and in the case of Iraq, to steal the country’s vast oil reserves.
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And Turnbull was never a target for the US President. Instead, the n prime minister was collateral damage in a shootout between factions in the new administration – in which Trump’s angry dressing-down of Turnbull was leaked as proof of what is being dubbed Trump’s shock-and-awe first days in the Oval Office; and with it, the swift and extraordinary consolidation of power by his anarchic strategy chief, Stephen Bannon.

Canberra reeled in the wake of The Washington Post’s unprecedented, chapter-and-verse account of anger and condescension spilling down a phone line from the White House, as Trump made serial “pleased to meet you” calls to world leaders last weekend. And when Trump breasted the microphone at a national prayer breakfast in Washington on Thursday, he wasn’t quite ready to drop the shock-and-awe bit.

“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it.” Trump said: “We have to be tough. It’s time we’re going to be tough, folks. We’re taken advantage of by every nation in the world, virtually. It’s not going to happen anymore.”

In anyone’s language the deal, by which Canberra talked the Obama administration into taking 1250 refugees who still languish in Nauru and on Manus Island, was a cunning stunt that was sure to get up Trump’s nose – hence this tweet on Wednesday evening, in which Trump exaggerated the numbers: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from . Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

Amidst an outpouring of social media affection for , former senior US diplomats rushed in to douse the flames, with most refusing to speak publicly about the damage they feared Trump might have inflicted, lest their critique goad the new President to direct even greater heat at Canberra. “It’s serious – I don’t want to enflame things,” a former Bush-appointed ambassador told Fairfax Media.

Later, Trump seemed to have got the message, declaring: “I love as a country.” But as much as he grudgingly accepted that he was obliged to honour Obama’s resettlement deal, the President remained angry: “I just said ‘why?'”

And his spokesman, Sean Spicer, who at various points in his daily press briefing referred to the prime minister as “Trunbull” and “Trumbull”, warned that all the detainees would be subjected to Trump’s “extreme vetting”, leaving moot how many, if any, of the 1250 refugees would end up in the US.

Ironically, the Post’s report on Trump dissing Turnbull came during what had the appearance of a respite from the wall-to-wall protests and executive-order madness of the new President’s first days in office – Trump didn’t care, but Turnbull could reasonably have expected that with no leaks in the intervening days, the ugly detail of his unpleasant exchange with ‘s most important ally would stay under wraps; and in naming his pick to fill a vacancy on the US Supreme Court, Trump’s choice of the youthful originalist Neil Gorsuch was well within the bounds of Republican expectations.

But when Trump anointed Gorsuch at a live-televised ceremony under grand chandeliers in the East Room at the White House, as much as all eyes were on the nominee, many also wondered about the rumpled figure standing off to the left, an enigmatic grin creasing his ruddy complexion.

This was Bannon, well known to Americans since his appointment as Trump’s campaign chief last year and, since winning the election, his appointment as Trump’s chief strategist. But it was not until this week that they understood the enormity of the power amassed by this brash, bumptious newcomer to public service. In some quarters, he’s already referred to as President Bannon.

As Team Trump trooped into the White House, different power bases were ticked off by analysts – Bannon and his policy adviser sidekick Stephen Miller were the outsiders, some would say the bomb throwers; and Vice-President Mike Pence and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus were the GOP establishment guys, who many in the party believed had used the transition process to outmanoeuvre Bannon by stacking the White House with their hand-picked establishment loyalists.

Between those two was the Trump family beachhead – the President’s son-in-law, trusted confidant and counsellor Jared Kushner; and floating between these three powerbases on an issue-by-issue basis, was Kellyanne Conway, a key campaign figure who Trump has also appointed as a White House counsellor.

None expected the shakedown to be as quick as it was. But amidst the chaos generated by the executive order by which Trump shuttered the global US refugee program for four months, and indefinitely in the case of those from Syria, and put a bar on arrivals from seven majority-Muslim countries, Trump slipped another executive order into the mix – he was appointing Bannon to the National Security Council … on which, more in a minute.

All this – the messages from Trump, the rate at which he threw them out and the extent to which Americans were seeing the unvarnished, unrestrained Trump – is attributed to Bannon’s brilliance. In declaring Bannon responsible for making “Trump the disrupter” the accent for these vivid first days in office, Time magazine quoted a veteran Republican who said: “It’s already over, and Bannon won.”

And this from BuzzFeed, in the crazy first days of Trump’s migration crackdown: “A weekend of chaos and conflict has produced one piece of clarity: Steve Bannon is the central force shaping Donald Trump’s presidency.”

Bannon seemed to concur with Time’s assessments that he was the one who kept the doctrine pure, he was the true believer who was in it not for money or position, but to change history.

“What we are witnessing now is the birth of a new political order,” Bannon said in an email to The Washington Post.

And that’s the thing. For much of the campaign and even into the transition period, a lot of what Trump had promised was dismissed as campaign theatrics – more hot air from the New York blowhard. The underlying belief was that Trump didn’t have the bottle – but Bannon is Trump’s bottle.

Historically, an army of advisers swarms around a new president, telling him what he can’t do; but Bannon marches into the Oval Office each day, telling Trump what he can do. And he does it – sometimes secretly, like much of the groundwork on the migration crackdown.

Increasingly his decisions are seen to be in line with Bannon’s instinctive gut feeling – which insiders say is much like Trump’s.

It’s not surprising that Bannon could elbow Priebus aside. But amid speculation that Washington politics is proving to be more of a challenge than they had expected, some wide-eyed reporters are asking what happened to Kushner and his wife – Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.

Kushner is rated as a steadying, mollifying influence on Trump. An explanation being offered for some of the wilder rides by the administration – usually on Fridays – is that Kushner absents himself from the White House to observe the Sabbath rituals of his Jewish faith. But some suspect that he is being undermined and is less able to haul Trump back from Bannon’s pyrotechnic sphere of influence.

Kushner’s predictions in meetings with the business community that Trump would be “rational” when it came to his dealing with Muslims and building a border wall didn’t hold up – and usually mild-mannered, the son-in-law reportedly was enraged by the collapse of a deal on which he had laboured to ensure that a meeting between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto would proceed.

“Kushner was f—ing furious,” according to a source quoted by Vanity Fair magazine. “I’d never once heard him say he was angry throughout the entire campaign, but he was furious.”

In the main, Trump’s commitments have been to those who he calls “the forgotten people”. Uniting the political tribes of the US is not at the top of his list and he doesn’t dwell on healing divisions – quite the contrary, in fact.

Miller, the policy chief, shares Bannon’s penchant for disruption, explaining to CBS News: “Anytime you do anything hugely successful that challenges a failed orthodoxy, you’re going to see protests. In fact, if nobody is disagreeing with what you’re doing, then you’re probably not doing anything that really matters in the scheme of things.”

Bannon and Miller reportedly were the authors of Trump’s “American carnage” inauguration speech, and the duo are presumed to be the authors of most of Trump’s executive orders. Similarly Bannon is said to have influenced Trump’s decision to have a portrait of Andrew Jackson, the so-called angry president, near his desk.

For Bannon, the NSC appointment was pure political gold – Americans and the world can only guess at what it might mean for them.

Already, even before Trump’s nominated secretary of state, former ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, had been approved by the Senate, the President has, with the aid of Bannon and Michael Flynn, their worrisome national security adviser, signalled what The Washington Post describes as the abandonment of traditional diplomacy in favour of concentrated decision-making by these few aides, infusing a combative, iconoclastic foreign policy with their “America First” ethos.

Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, used her first visit to UN headquarters in New York to announce that Washington would be on the watch for those who “don’t have our back” and she paused, before adding: “We’re taking names.”

As Trump hectors China and Iran, the worry for some observers is that even as Tillerson settles behind his desk at the State Department, Trump and his gang will have so articulated a world view and a belief in how it should be managed that Tillerson will have to fight to be heard.

Trump’s reorganisation of the Security Council to accommodate Bannon is staggering – not only has he elevated a political adviser to a seat on the NSC principals committee, a Cabinet-level forum that tries to deal in fact; he has made Bannon’s rise all the more powerful by downgrading the NSC standing of the heads of the military and intelligence.

Bannon, a former US Navy officer and admiral’s aide, Goldman Sachs investment banker, Hollywood producer and Breitbart flame-thrower, is now on par with the secretaries of defence and state.

“The last place you want to put somebody who worries about politics is in a room where they’re talking about national security,” Leon Panetta, a former White House chief of staff, defence secretary and CIA director in two Democratic administrations told The New York Times.

“I’ve never seen that happen, and it shouldn’t happen. It’s not like he has broad experience in foreign policy and national security issues. He doesn’t. His primary role is to control or guide the President’s conscience based on his campaign promises. That’s not what the National Security Council is supposed to be about.”

And if, as a Democratic appointee, Panetta sounds partisan, George W. Bush’s last chief of staff, Josh Bolten, seemingly agreed. Having barred Karl Rove, Bush’s political adviser, from NSC meetings, he argued at a conference last year that a president’s decisions made with his NSC advisers “involve life and death for the people in uniform” and should “not be tainted by any political decisions”.

Trump reportedly respects Bannon because being independently wealthy, he doesn’t need the job, and for his pleasure in blowing things up – he is said to have told a fellow guest at a party that he was like Lenin, sharing the Russian revolutionary’s eagerness to “bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment”.

More troubling, given Bannon’s NSC appointment, is information shared by his former Hollywood writing partner, Julia Jones, who describes his obsessive interest in wars and warfare.

“Steve is a strong militarist, he’s in love with war – it’s almost poetry to him,” she told The Daily Beast last year. “He’s studied it down through the ages, from Greece, through Rome … every battle, every war … Never back down, never apologise, never show weakness … He lives in a world where it’s always high noon at the OK Corral.”

But public opinion moves fast when you are having fun. A Public Policy Polling survey released on Thursday shows that 40 per cent of Americans already want to impeach Trump – up from 35 per cent just a week ago.

In the meantime, American commentators are running out of words to describe Trump’s excesses. This is what The Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker is reduced to as she attempts to describe the unfolding early days of Trump: “Every day is a jack-in-the-box – or a dozen – a fresh page from Hieronymus Bosch’s sketchpad.”

Malcolm Turnbull gets the picture. Trump sketched it at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast: “The world is in trouble, but we’re gonna straighten it out, OK? That’s what I do – I fix things. We’re gonna straighten it out. Believe me.”



The Elphie, Germany’s answer to the Opera House

The Elphie, in Hamburg, German, was wrought from the bones of an 1875 warehouse.It’s been dubbed the project of the decade and also the new Sydney Opera House. Finally, the Elbphilharmonie​, in Hamburg, Germany, has opened to the public, six years late and 10 times the original budget – but who’s counting? Designed by Swiss architectural powerhouse Herzog & de Meuron of Tate Modern fame, and wrought from the bones of an 1875 warehouse, the Elphie is crowned with an undulating, sequined roof with 1000 curved glass panels that glitter and reflect the sun, sky and the waters of the Elbe River. Comprising three concert halls, the largest is the 2100-seat Grand Hall, now in the throes of a three-week long opening festival, replete with works commissioned specifically for the opening that showcasing the Elphie’s resident orchestras. The key to the concert hall’s pure sound is the acoustic “white skin” on the walls, made from 10,000 panels that steer the sound into every corner. Although the architects took reference from sports stadiums and the ancient temple at Delphi (as well as tents), those who like to see the whites of the performing musicians’ eyes will be pleased to note that even the back seats are no more than 30 metres from the conductor. Set on a peninsula jutting into the river, the complex also includes the four-star, 250-room Westin Hotel Hamburg, with rooms from $US213. A public plaza, reached by a curved, 82-metre escalator, is open to all comers, so even if you’re not a fine music fan, or not really into architecture, it’s worth a visit for its expansive views of the north German harbour city and the rejuvenated precinct around the concert hall. See elbphilharmonie.de, westinhamburg苏州夜总会招聘
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Five places that made me: Alex Zabotto-Bentley, design director

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Growing up, summer holidays were always a family affair. All the cousins would get together, and the families would bring their own house-made salami, ricotta, pasta, and all the bounty from their suburban gardens to a holiday house on the Mornington Peninsula. It was a classic coming of age story; we kids were like a tribe, hitchhiking up to Portsea, trying that first swig of grappa, sunbaking with baby oil, first kiss on a ride at Rye Carnival … ATHENS AND ROME

After studying classics at university, visiting Athens was a pure epiphany. Right in front of me, these temples embodied the beauty of mathematical principles, of form and balance, and everything made sense. I immediately wanted to delve further into Greco Roman art, so I hightailed it to Trastevere in Rome, where I was struck by the power of the statuary: the proud bearing and aquiline noses. I started sketching them for myself and I still do. Nothing beats a great Roman nose. PARIS

The Picasso Museum in Paris was a very special experience. As a kid, I had stolen a page from a library book, depicting Picasso’s The Pan Flute painted in 1923. I had this Picasso print on my wall and I was obsessed with cubism and its offbeat colours, which I often use in my work. I had longed to see the original, and there it was, recently restored. Time literally stood still. I actually asked the attendant to allow me five minutes alone with it … and he did. They got everyone out of the room and I kind of communed with it. Unforgettable. TRIESTE

A few years ago, both my parents passed away within a short time. I decided to make a pilgrimage to Trieste, Italy, where they were married. I needed to return them in spirit to the place where they had come together, but I didn’t know exactly which church it was. I searched out members of their bridal party, distant cousins and people in the village that had attended, and explained my story. I was able to track down the church and just as I entered and took a pew, the bells began to toll. It was incredibly moving. I climbed a giant rhododendron tree outside the church and attached two santini (memorial photos of my parents), with my cousins clapping in celebration. It was a fitting closure to a beautiful love story and an almighty homecoming. MALTA

Last year, I was honoured to be the style director for Malta’s entry for Eurovision. For a boy from Coburg who had spent every Eurovision contest glued to the TV with family and friends, to go to Stockholm and be backstage was almost unbelievable. We created a video for singer Ira Losco that celebrated Malta, from the crumbling palazzi to the wild coastline. It’s hard to convey the feeling of doing my dream job in such a spectacular country.

Alex Zabotto-Bentley is the award-winning owner of AZBCreative, known for his innovative approach to design. Coming up: Mjolner, a Viking-inspired restaurant in Redfern’s Old Tobacco Factory, and several international hotel projects including Flores, Bali, and London. See azbthecreative苏州夜总会招聘


Government MPs working to bring same-sex marriage policy to a head over next fortnight

Rainbow Families opposed to a plebiscite on same sex marriage outside Parliament House in Canberra in September 2016. Photo: Andrew Meares The push to allow a free vote is being driven by the backbench, though some cabinet ministers are aware the discussions are underway. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull personally supports same-sex marriage. Photo: Penny Stephens

Liberal Party MPs who support same-sex marriage will push to abandon the government’s plebiscite policy over the next fortnight in favour of a free vote on the floor of Parliament, in a move that could divide the Coalition and create a fresh political headache for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Fairfax Media understands Liberal MPs including Dean Smith, Warren Entsch, Tim Wilson, Trent Zimmerman, Trevor Evans and Melissa Price are among those leading discussions on how to advance the issue.

The push to allow a free vote is being driven by the backbench, though some cabinet ministers are aware the discussions are underway.

The majority of the Turnbull cabinet, including Mr Turnbull, personally support same-sex marriage, but the issue has been dormant since late last year.

The argument in favour of a free vote is that Liberal MPs have historically had a conscience vote on such issues and that the position adopted under Tony Abbott, which bound MPs to support a plebiscite, was an aberration.

In November last year, Mr Wilson said in a speech that he had “discharged” his responsibility to vote for the proposed February 11 plebiscite – a vote that was defeated – and that he believed a vote could be held before the next election. Supporters believe Mr Wilson’s argument is correct and they are now entitled to a free vote.

They argue that once the plebiscite date passes, and a Senate inquiry into the bill proposed by Attorney-General George Brandis is handed down in mid-February, the Liberal party room should debate the issue in the second week of the new parliamentary year, commencing February 13.

Significantly, they hope to bring the issue to a vote this year – possibly as soon as the end of March – to deal with the issue and get it off the political agenda ahead of the next election.

“No one wants this issue to go in into the May budget session, so lets deal with this quickly and relatively painlessly,” one supporter of the move said.

“This could be world’s biggest pain between now and the next poll.”

Another MP said compromises that allow religious exemptions would be necessary and that “the feeling is that this issue won’t go away, it is obstructing the government’s agenda and there is now a willingness to revisit this”.

“No one can have everything they want. But if the Parliament can agree on a compromise, that is a good thing.”

As the backbench group agitates for change, same-sex marriage campaigners ns for Equality will on Sunday launch a new advertising campaign across TV, newspapers and on billboards in strategic locations such as Canberra Airport, to greet MPs when they arrive on Monday for the resumption of Parliament.

ns for Equality director Tiernan Brady said the campaign would be the biggest, most expensive one of its kind launched in and focus on “changing the law to reflect n values”.

Mr Brady said the push to legalise same-sex marriage would not go away and the ad campaign would focus on the idea that “politicians should do their jobs” and vote on the issue.

“ns are for marriage equality,” he said. “They are not unsure, they are not a little in favour, it’s 65 per cent-plus in favour. is in the top 10 countries in the world in favour of marriage equality.”

Some Liberal Party MPs Fairfax Media has spoken to who oppose legalising same-sex marriage believe the law change is inevitable and that it may be time for the change to happen via a free vote given the issue sucks up oxygen and distracts from the Coalition’s core agenda.

If a free vote was allowed for Liberal Party MPs, it is likely the laws would be passed with the support of Labor, the Greens and crossbench MPs. It would see join other anglophone countries including the United States, Britain, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland in allowing the unions.

But other more conservative MPs would fight tooth and nail to stop any fresh push and warned a civil war could erupt if Mr Turnbull did not stop the push.

Another complication is the Coalition agreement between the Liberal Party and Nationals specifies that a plebiscite be held, suggesting any attempt to engineer a free vote could set off a brawl between the two governing parties.

As recently as December, Mr Turnbull said the plebiscite remained Coalition policy and insisted it was the mechanism by which same-sex marriage could become reality.

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