Big guns back for table-topping NRL clash

Manly and South Sydney have both been significantly bolstered ahead of Friday’s top-of-the-table NRL showdown at the SCG with Sam Burgess, Ben Te’o, Jorge Taufua and Justin Horo all set to return from the sidelines.

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Rabbitohs enforcer Burgess has been named to play in what some are labelling as a potential grand final preview, after missing the side’s win over Newcastle on Sunday with a shoulder problem, while Ben Te’o returns from suspension.

Manly winger Jorge Taufua will play his first game in three weeks in the round-22 clash after recovering from an ankle injury while back-rower Justin Horo is back from suspension.

“Apart from Johnny Sutton, everyone is coming back,” stand-in Souths skipper Greg Inglis said at training on Tuesday.

Former NSW prop Tim Grant and club co-captain Kevin Kingston will return for injury-hit Penrith for Sunday’s trip to Wollongong to play St George Illawarra.

Out-of-favour Panthers duo Grant and Kingston have been added to a seven-man bench.

Out-of-sorts Canterbury have been boosted by the comebacks of Josh Morris and Aiden Tolman for Friday’s match against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.

Cronulla’s injury woes have been eased by the return of captain Paul Gallen (biceps) against the Warriors in Auckland on Sunday.

NSW Origin backrower Luke Lewis (hamstring), stand-in skipper Wade Graham (foot) and young winger Jacob Gagan (hamstring) have all been ruled out for the year following the side’s loss to Parramatta.

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson (groin) will miss a third straight week with Thomas Leuluai filling in, while Konrad Hurrell (groin) will be replaced by teenager Tuimoala Lolohea.

Canberra backline stars Edrick Lee (foot) and Jack Wighton (thumb) have both been cleared to return from long-term injuries against Parramatta in Darwin on Saturday night.

The Raiders were thumped 54-18 by the Warriors on Sunday with season-ending injuries to Shaun Fensom (anterior cruciate ligament), David Shillington (pectoral) and Kurt Baptiste (shoulder) compounding the embarrassing defeat.

Coach Ricky Stuart has shifted Brisbane-bound fullback Anthony Milford to five-eighth to replace Terry Campese (abdominal) with ex-Gold Coast back Jordan Rapana to play at No.1 in his first NRL game since 2008.

For the Eels, Kenny Edwards replaces back-rower David Gower.

Newcastle have received a boost with Jarrod Mullen (abdominal), Kade Snowden (concussion) and Akuila Uate (knee) all available when they take on Melbourne at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.

Mullen’s return has prompted Knights coach Wayne Bennett to push captain Kurt Gidley to fullback.

Wests Tigers Mick Potter has named Luke Brooks and Pat Richards for Saturday’s trip to Townsville to meet North Queensland, but both are unlikely to play.

Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend (hamstring) has been ruled out for up to a month and will be replaced by Heath L’Estrange in the starting side for Monday’s Allianz Stadium match-up with Gold Coast, with Mitchell Aubusson returning via the bench.

US firms plan $14b in Africa investments

US companies are planning $US14 billion ($A15.

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15 billion) worth of investments in Africa, a White House official says as Washington seeks to strengthen commercial ties during the historic US-Africa Leaders Summit.

With the United States seeking to counter the Chinese and European trade dominance in Africa, a White House official said the investments will span a range of industries, including construction, clean energy, banking and information technology.

The announcement came on the second day of the summit, during which President Barack Obama and US business chieftains hope to deepen ties with their African counterparts.

While the United States remains the largest source of investment on the continent, it has been largely in the oil and gas sector.

China and Europe have built stronger positions in infrastructure, manufacturing and trade, with China’s trade with Africa more than double that of the United States.

Obama, former president Bill Clinton, other US officials and chief executives of top US companies hope to woo a gathering of some 45 African heads of state and government and African business chiefs in a day-long forum in Washington.

“This forum will intensify efforts to strengthen trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa and seek to create partnerships that will promote trade, accelerate job growth, and encourage investment,” the official said.

Africans criticise US businesses as bound too deeply to old stereotypes and too risk-averse to plunge into business with them, even though the continent is growing faster than any other region on the globe.

US officials especially want to win a large chunk of the business of electrifying Africa, building power generation plants and distribution facilities that will further enhance economic growth.

Washington also wants to ensure that US businesses get a big part of the pie of 350 million middle-class African consumers.

No details were provided on the composition or timing of the $US14 billion.

General Electric, which already has a formidable presence in Africa, said on Monday it was planning $US2 billion in new investments to build and assemble equipment for oil and other industries, as well as training in health and other sectors.

Labor’s NBN rollout slammed by auditor

Rushed, chaotic and inadequate: that’s how Labor’s NBN rollout has been described by the former head of the Productivity Commission.

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Bill Scales has found the Rudd cabinet gave only what he calls “perfunctory” consideration to the $ 43 billion second stage of the project.

 

His report says cabinet only spent 11 weeks setting up NBN Co, which Mr Scales describes as not “fit for purpose”.

 

Communications Minister at the time of Labor’s NBN roll out, Senator Stephen Conroy, has spoken out in defence on ABC Radio.

 

“Mr Scales isn’t aware of all of the evidence and all of the deliberations. There was an alternative position discussed, but Mr Scales is not aware of that because it was discussed in cabinet committees.”

 

The project has since been marked by delays and cost blowouts – things Mr Scales says could have been avoided if a business case or cost-benefit analysis was carried out.

 

His report recommends any large infrastructure projects included in election commitments be independently costed by the Productivity Commission or Infrastructure Australia, with full costs to be made public.

 

He also calls for public infrastructure projects worth over $1 billion to be subject to a public cost benefit analysis.

 

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull says it’s already Coalition policy to have a cost-benefit analysis for projects worth more than $100 million.

 

Senator Conroy is asking why the government is spending so much money commissioning six reports into Labor’s NBN.

 

“Why is Malcolm Turnbull spending $10 million of taxpayers’ money to attack the NBN? Because his policy is a dog. He’s failed to meet his own election commitment where he said he’d get 90 per cent of Australians with 25 meg speeds by 2016 – already abandoned.”

 

But Mr Turnbull says the reviews are valuable.

 

“It’s very important to learn from the mistakes of the past. The purpose for doing this audit is so that you have an independent, sober assessment of what happened, the mistakes that were made, and we learn from those mistakes and let’s hope we don’t make them again, because there is tens of billions wasted because of this.”

 

The Abbott government’s cost benefit analysis of the current broadband roll-out is due to be published within months.

AIDS conference delegates on why they’re seeking asylum in Australia

Some of the AIDS conference delegates who say they’re seeking asylum are from a country in East Africa which they don’t wish to identify.

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This man told SBS Radio’s Swahili program what life is like for him at home.

 

“What made me make this decision are the acts of brutality I was subjected to. When someone discriminates against you because of your sexuality or the origins of your ethnicity there comes a time where you have to say enough is enough. I have had acid thrown at me, I was stabbed on my head and private parts and despite my numerous reports to the police no action has been taken. I’ve tried relocating to other parts of the country for my own safety but I’ve met the same problems everywhere I’ve moved to.”

 

Another East African man who spoke to SBS Radio’s Swahili program says he’s faced discrimination because of his efforts to help young albino people.

 

“I established a football team which comprised of 14-24 year old boys who are albino and their peers who were considered normal. My aim was to show the society that albinos are no different to others and when given a chance they too can be just as productive. I then took my team to the national parliament with an aim of educating the society further. Our visit to the national parliament received a lot of media coverage in the country.”

 

Albinos in East Africa face widespread persecution, and their body parts are used in witchcraft.

 

The asylum seeker says he was even asked to help obtain body parts.

 

“Shortly after I received some phone calls from some wealthy people in (the Tanzanian capital) Dar es Salaam, whom I won’t mention their names- they asked me to help them with the killing of albinos so their body organs can be sold and returned and they could become wealthier. I declined their proposal and reported the matter to the police who arrested them. However a few days later, I saw them walking freely and soon after I received some threatening phone calls from them, accusing me of reporting them and that they were going to deal with me accordingly.”

 

The crisis accommodation service, HomeGround, told SBS 19 delegates to the AIDS conference who are now claiming asylum have been placed in emergency housing in Melbourne.

 

It says it has been approached by community members offering to house the asylum seekers in their homes.

 

Pamela Curr, from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, is also working with some of the delegates.

 

She says many are at risk purely because they either are HIV-positive themselves, or work with people who are.

 

“These people arrived mainly from African countries. They came into the country on visas, lawful visas by air and what has happened is that many of them come from countries where to be working in the field of HIV or to be affected by HIV is a life threatening proposition. Not only from the illness, but also from the violence of governments in the countries in which they live.”

 

Pamela Curr says it’s not the first time that delegates to international events in Australia have stayed behind, to claim asylum.

 

 

“We have seen it in the past from a number of conferences and sporting events, the Homeless World Cup, there was a world religious day. We have seen this in the past and what happens is some people actually come to the conferences who may indeed be at risk and they may hope that they can seek asylum. But others come to the conference with the intention of returning home and then see the freedom and safety is intoxicating.”

 

The office of the Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, says it’s unable to comment on individual applications for asylum.

 

 

 

 

Doping ban broke cycling rules: Kreuziger

Czech cyclist Roman Kreuziger claims the UCI has broken its anti-doping rules by provisionally suspending him without a positive test.

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In a statement on his website on Tuesday, Kreuziger said he and his lawyers “strongly oppose the UCI decision” to impose a temporary ban on him racing.

“(The ban) has no basis in the UCI legislation, allowing imposition of a provisional suspension only in cases of a positive A sample, which is not Mr Kreuziger’s case,” the statement said.

“Other preliminary measures can only be imposed when there exists a risk that the results of a race might be affected by the alleged doping activity of the rider … and only after providing the rider an opportunity to deliver a written submission – which did not happen.”

Cycling’s governing body used blood analysis from 2011 and ’12 in Kreuziger’s biological passport to suspend the Tinkoff-Saxo rider on Saturday.

The temporary ban prevented him starting the Tour of Poland on Sunday.

“I’m not a cheat, and I have not committed any doping offence,” the insisted. “I am deeply frustrated by this current situation, which makes it impossible for me to do my job and ride my bike.”

Kreuziger had pledged on Sunday to ask the Court of Arbitration for Sport to lift the ban before the three-week Spanish Vuelta starts on August 23.

In June, Tinkoff-Saxo dropped Kreuziger from its Tour de France roster because of suspected discrepancies in his biological passport. With no disciplinary case open, it selected him for the stage races in Poland and Spain.

The UCI acknowledged on Saturday it had reacted to the team selections based on “the recent assertion of an anti-doping rule violation based on his athlete biological passport”.

The cycling body did not respond immediately to requests for comment on Tuesday.

In his latest statement, Kreuziger said he wished to explain the facts to avoid any misunderstandings.

The 28-year-old has three career top-10 finishes in the Tour de France and victories in the second-tier Tour of Romandie and Tour of Switzerland stage races. He also has a one-day classic victory in the 2013 Amstel Gold race.