Musharraf may face death penalty in Pakistan

Pakistan’s fallen former military dictator Pervez Musharraf has been ordered to face court in Islamabad on Tuesday, his ignominy complete as he faces not only a charge he committed treason against his country, but the very real potential he could be executed for it.

For Nawaz Sharif, watching from the Prime Ministerial residence a few hundred metres up Constitution Avenue from the Supreme Court, the sight of Musharraf humbled before the bench presents an interesting tableau – not least because the view was very different 14 years ago.

In 1999, Nawaz Sharif was a deeply unpopular Prime Minister, leading a beleaguered government, when Musharraf, then the Chief of Army Staff, launched a sudden, bloodless coup d’etat.

Musharraf’s soldiers seized airports and surrounded the Prime Minister’s house.

He declared a state of emergency, sacked the country’s judges, and had Sharif jailed and exiled.

Musharraf would rule Pakistan for the next nine years, before the country’s merciless politics caught up with him too, and he was forced to flee ahead of impeachment.

Musharraf has been accused of complicity in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, as well as a slew of other crimes, but it is for his primary act, abrogating the constitution, that he faces trial on Tuesday.

For Sharif, on a personal level, the temptation must be strong to see vengeance unleashed upon Musharraf, and the fullest possible punishment brought to bear.

Musharraf’s very existence is a standing insult to Sharif, a reminder of what went before, and a cautionary demonstration of the very real limits on his power.

Just two months ago, Sharif won a commanding mandate in Pakistan’s general election. But for all his current electoral strength, Sharif, as much as any leader before him, must be acutely conscious of the power wielded by the men in khaki in his country.

However, for several reasons, the prosecution or otherwise of Pervez Musharraf is a more nuanced problem for Sharif than it might otherwise appear.

Poisonous politics

Pursuing Musharraf will seem, to many, as simply more of the vengeful personality politics that has poisoned Pakistan.

It is a diversion, too, from the immediate problems Sharif came to power promising to fix – quelling an extremist insurgency, jump-starting a moribund economy, building desperately-needed physical infrastructure, and simply keeping the lights on by ending the country’s long-running power crisis.

As well, Sharif must know that the Pakistan army breeds, above all else, loyalty.

Musharraf is still a military man, one of theirs, and efforts to prosecute him could be provocation for yet another conflict between a democratically-elected government and an army that wields so much unseen power.

Rule of law

But for Musharraf’s trial to be abandoned because it is difficult is hardly helpful for Pakistan either.

A trial for the former dictator would demonstrate to a new generation of generals the supremacy of the rule of law, and of elected governments, in a democracy.

This country’s short independent history has been pockmarked by three military takeovers, all of which have proved disastrous. Musharraf’s trial, in particular his conviction, would perhaps discourage another ambitious general from trying again.

That impunity for Pakistan’s military should end can only benefit the country.

But as is so often the way in Pakistan, a solution might be found for the Musharraf problem.

His elderly mother is ill in Dubai, and a “humanitarian” gesture from the government might allow him to slip out of the country never to return.

A deal might be brokered with the courts or the military that would allow Musharraf to serve a life prison term instead of seeing him hanged.

Return from exile

However it turns out, the predicament currently confronting Musharraf is, in every sense, a product of his own creation.

Earlier this year, the general returned from his self-imposed exile in London and Dubai planning to lead his newly-formed party in the election.

He came back under the misguided belief he was popular in his homeland, and bearing a delusion he would be returned to power. His party floundered at the election, and a court ruling banned him from even contesting a seat.

Musharraf’s megalomania may cost him his life, or at least the rest of it in jail.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

But it’s cold and wet outside…

Obey the app: Brigid Delaney braves bad weather to become a ‘real’ runner. Photo: Leanne PickettIt’s a given that there are many health and fitness benefits to learning how to run but I have a secret, personal reason. I want to see if running can help my creativity.

I have moved from Sydney to the sleepy fishing village of Port Fairy, population 3000, at the end of the Great Ocean Road in south-west Victoria. I am here for a month, working like a demon to finish a novel that I began way back in 2006.

I have to submit my final edit to the publisher at the end of the month and this last push with the novel will be a difficult one. I’ll need stamina and focus to get it done. And that’s where running comes in. I hadn’t connected the two until I read Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami’s short memoir What I Talk about When I Talk about Running.

He writes: ”Most of what I know about writing fiction I learnt by running every day.”  The secret to both is endurance, hard work and consistency.

Murakami is at marathon standard and I’m at the middle section of the ”couch to 5k” app – weeks four to seven – but the principles should remain the same.

At this mid-point, the intervals are lengthening. Running eight minutes without stopping feels uncomfortable, even though I have been following the app and keeping my runs regularly spaced three times a week. I’ll be shuffling along and look at the time, thinking surely these eight minutes are up any second now, and be dismayed to learn Ihave been running for two minutes, 12 seconds. I’ve never known time to go so slow – even at the dentist.

Maybe the app is broken, I think, or I’ve touched pause accidentally. But there they still are, illuminated on the screen, the seconds s-l-o-w-l-y ticking down.

I’m also out of whack. Some days I can run the six-minute intervals easily, then the next time I run I can barely do three minutes without stopping, my calves burning in pain, the fuel tank empty. You know those lines from Gallipoli:

”What are your legs?”

”Springs. Steel springs.”

”What are they going to do?”

”Hurl me down the track.”

”How fast can you run?”

”As fast as a leopard.”

I ask myself myself the same questions:

What are my legs?

They are concrete pylons.

What are they going to do?

Not much.

I complained on Twitter about my inconsistent form and a couple of runners got back to me saying it’s normal to have patchy days where your body isn’t co-operating. Just get back on the horse, they advised.

Then there is the weather to contend with. Winter in south-west Victoria is very different from winter in Sydney. The skies sit low and grey for weeks at a time, the wind that barrels in off the Southern Ocean is stabby and strong, the rain comes down in vast sheets for days and days. People disappear during winter, into their houses or up north to Queensland.

It’s great writing weather. But it’s not running weather.

I can’t possibly run in this weather, I think, as I see the sky blacken again with a midday storm. But the app says I must run today and I must obey the app.

At first I am worried that running in the rain will make me ill. I do what I always do when I am not sure about something. I ask Twitter.

”Just get out there,” is the resounding response I receive.

There seems to be a feeling among the runners I talk to that rain separates the wheat from the chaff. If you want to call yourself a runner, you have get out there in the wet.

My first rain run is along East beach in Port Fairy. I am the only person on the beach. Not even the seagulls have stuck around. Rain comes in sheets. The beach has almost disappeared. The tide is up and I’m sinking into the sand. The sea has spewed up vast quantities of seaweed that I have to run around like an obstacle course. And that wind, Arctic! It knocks the buds from my ears, not that it matters – Kayne’s voice was being drowned out by the ocean anyway.

I eventually run out of beach and move up to the road. I run through an icy puddle that’s as deep as my ankles. No cars, no people.

The usual things when I am running – sore calves, boredom – recede as I focus on this new problem: the cold, the wind, the rain.  My skin is stinging with cold; I have a strange sensation that my nose will bleed, but the need to keep warm means that I am properly running this time. I run for eight minutes then walk quickly, willing the next run to come up soon. I need to run or else I will freeze and be unable to move and my novel will never get finished.

I return home exhilarated. I ran in the rain! I rush to Twitter to tell my followers.

”You are becoming a runner if you went out in that,” one writes after I post a picture of the storm I just ran though.

I wonder if it’s a baptism of sorts. When you run in the rain, when you slog down the soggy deserted beach in midwinter, in the wild and craggy south-west Victoria, you become one of THEM.


Books Haruki Murakami’s WhatITalk about When I Talk about Running.

Music Something with lots of strong beats to keep you motivated such as Kanye, Dizzee Rascal, Beyonce, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Gorillaz.

Twitter Find a community of fellow runners to give you support when you don’t feel like getting outthere.

Onwards and upwards: Brigid Delaney hopes running will help spark her creativity.Photo: Leanne Pickett

Does Brigid make 5ks? Find out in our running issue July 22 The Age; July 25 The Sydney Morning Herald

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

‘There was about one second, and then bang, bang, bang, bang’

Detectives set up a crime scene in the car park. Fatal shooting: police at the scene in Eastlakes. Photo: Nick Moir

Sydney residents have described hearing rapid gunfire and the screams of injured men during a drive-by shooting in Sydney’s south-east on Monday night, which left one person dead and another injured.

A group of men were standing in the rear car park of a block of units on George Street, Eastlakes, about 10pm on Monday when they were gunned down by the occupants of a passing black sedan.

One of the men, aged 37, was shot in the stomach and collapsed to the ground. Police arrived a short time later and attempted to revive him, but he died in the car park.

The second man, aged 25, suffered a gunshot wound to his leg and was taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where he was in a stable condition on Tuesday morning.

At least six shots were fired during the incident, and residents in the street said initially they believed fireworks were being set off.

One neighbour said he was in the back room of his home when he heard four initial gun shots.

“Then there was about one second, and then bang, bang, bang, bang, at least another four shots,” said the neighbour, who asked not to be named.

He said about 10 seconds later he heard a car speeding away.

The shooting victims were screaming in the street, he said.

“I heard the man yelling ‘Argh!’, and I heard the other man yelling somebody’s name, and then he said ‘Oh no’.”

The neighbour said he heard screams for help coming from the street. The police came about 10 minutes later.

The neighbour said when he went outside he saw the body of the shooting victim lying on the road, and the injured man lying on the footpath.

“He was yelling ‘Argh, my leg!’,” the neighbour said.

He said he did not know the people involved in the shooting, but had heard several arguments on the street in the past year between two groups of people, including one group who lived in the apartment block.

Another George Street resident who lives a few doors down said her husband ran out onto the street after hearing gunshots and saw two bodies on the ground.

One man was lying on the nature strip and another on the road.

“I was on the phone about 9.50pm and I heard two shots and I thought they might have been coming from a car, and then no more than about 20, 30 seconds [later], about another four shots in quick succession and then a car just sped off,” the woman said.

“My husband … I didn’t want him to come out, but he just went to the front fence and then he saw … up out the front of the units, a body on the nature strip and then one was on the road ’cause he saw his foot on the curb,” she said.

“It was mayhem. There were police cars everywhere there would have been about five ambulance and then lots of cars with guys all running up the street, screaming, yelling. Was just chaotic for a bit.”

Another neighbour said a “gang” had moved into the block about six months ago.

He said he heard two gunshots, followed by four more and then a man screaming for help.

“One of them was screaming and screamed ‘help’. They are a bad bunch,” he said.

Detectives from the anti-bikie Strike Force Raptor have spoken to a number of residents on George Street and asked them not to talk to anyone.

A man who lives a few doors down from the cream brick unit block said he had been living in the street for 35 years and described it as “the quietest street in Sydney”.

On Tuesday morning, two police officers guarded the entrance to the block and a team of officers from Police Rescue arrived to conduct a canvass of the area.

Witnesses also reported fighting on the street last week, but it is unclear if the two incidents are related.

Police said the attack was targeted, but have declined to speculate on the shooters of victims being bikie members.

– with Josh Hover, Rachel Olding

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Apartment plan for Palm Beach kiosk

Palm Beach’s kiosk and the adjoining two shop fronts are set to be developed into a mix of luxury apartments, retail and commercial suites now that the site is up for sale.

Listed with hopes of about $3 million, the 1362 square metre hillside site adjoins Barrenjoey House and comes with DA-approved plans drawn up by architect Dr Stephen Lesiuk.

The 36-metre frontage has views over Pittwater to Great Mackerel Beach and is currently owned by Athens-based building materials supplier Taso Anastasopoulos.

On the approved plans are six commercial suites, a kiosk, five apartments and basement parking for 22 cars.

The apartments are all three-bedders and are designed with open-plan living areas with wide verandas overlooking Pittwater. These have an anticipated price of more than $2.2 million and the penthouse more than $3 million.

Agent Michael King, of McGrath Palm Beach (currently a tenant on the site), says locals have already expressed an interest in the apartments given a lack of downsizer options in the area.

“There are plenty of locals who are looking at the access issues to their houses and the maintenance of these big, garden blocks, and there’s nothing like this around here that would cater to them,” Mr King said.

The development approval process for the site has been a protracted process since 2004 when Lesiuk Architects first lodged plans for a mixed residential and commercial use of the site.

Objections from locals and the Palm Beach and Whale Beach Association were based on the need for parking and the scale of the development.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Market system best to reduce emissions: Turnbull

Coalition MP Malcolm Turnbull: direct action policy on climate change ”short-term”. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Opposition Leader Tony Abbott visited a meat factory in Sydney to discuss his policy of repealing the carbon tax and skilled migration. Photo: Nick Moir

Coalition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull has characterised his party’s climate change policy as ”short term” and says he hopes the world moves to a market-based mechanism to reduce emissions.

But Mr Turnbull, who has previously described Tony Abbott’s Direct Action policy as ”a con” and lost his leadership of the Liberal Party in 2009 due to his support for an emissions trading scheme, chose his words carefully while appearing on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night.

”I will support the collective wisdom of the party room,” Mr Turnbull said.

”The big difference between our [climate change] policy … is that it is not designed to go any further than 2020. So it is not a long-term policy.”

On the same program, Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was asked whether the new Labor leadership team under Mr Rudd, would, as widely speculated, accelerate the move from a carbon tax to a floating price linked to the European market.

”We will be announcing it, it’s imminent, once we make a decision,” Mr Albanese said.

Mr Albanese also revealed on Monday that he had looked at estimates that showed how much it would cost Labor to shift sooner to an emissions trading scheme. But Mr Albanese would not say how much it would cost or whether he thought Labor could afford it.

Both Mr Albanese and Mr Turnbull agreed that the most efficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the long term was to implement a market-based scheme.

”I hope, I imagine, that is where the world will get to,” Mr Turnbull said.

Asked whether he would join Mr Abbott in campaigning to repeal an emissions trading scheme, Mr Turnbull admitted ”there would be more convincing advocates”.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he thought that Mr Turnbull “did a very very good job on Q&A last night” but he contradicted Mr Turnbull’s view that the world was moving in the direction of carbon pricing.

“As I’ve always said, the world is moving away from carbon taxes and emission trading scheme, not towards it,” Mr Abbott said.

“The world is moving towards the kind of Direct Action measures that the Coalition has long been proposing.”

On Tuesday, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey suggested the Coalition was open to considering an emissions trading scheme if the circumstances were right.

“If the world comes together in pricing carbon across their whole economies, then Australia stands prepared to look at joining them,” Mr Hockey said.

But Mr Hockey rejected the idea that the Coalition were out of step with other countries by pursuing their Direct Action policy.

“This idea that somehow Direct Action stands out by itself is laughable,” Mr Hockey said, adding that US President Barack Obama was following his own version of Direct Action.

Mr Turnbull said it was probably ”harsh” of him to have described Mr Abbott’s Direct Action policy as a ”con” in a 2009 opinion piece for Fairfax Media. In the same article, Mr Turnbull said the Liberal Party was ”currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is ‘crap’ and you don’t need to do anything about it”.

The Direct Action policy, Mr Turnbull said then, was ”an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing”.

The Coalition’s current policy is to use a range of measures, including a ”Green Army”, to cut emissions by 5 per cent cut from 2000 levels by 2020. Mr Turnbull says he thinks the policy ”will work up to that point”.

The Coalition will ”have a review in 2015, consider what is happening elsewhere in the world and plan our post-2020 policy there”, he said.

Follow the National Times on Twitter

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Mayhem as Egyptian troops fire on protestors

Unrest worsensUS to continue aid

Egypt’s worsening political crisis seems likely to provoke further bloodshed after 51 people were killed when soldiers opened fire on a crowd of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan.

Eyewitnesses have told Fairfax Media that army soldiers starting shooting at a large crowd of Mursi supporters who had gathered outside the military barracks where the ex-president is being held. They claim they were participating in morning prayers after 4am on Monday.

“There were shots from both sides,” said Ola Mohamed, a 53-year-old housewife who said she had maintained an all-night vigil outside the barracks with thousands of other Mursi supporters.

“It was not just the soldiers inside the barracks, the police outside, on the road, were shooting at us. There was a lot of teargas.”

Mrs Mohamed also claimed that she saw one soldier shot dead by his commanding officer because he had refused to fire on the crowd.

“I saw five women lying dead, they were shot through the head, in the back, and I saw some dead children.”

Tamin Farg Ramadan, 25, who teaches Hebrew at Al-Azhar University, was wounded when a shotgun pellet clipped his nose.

“The shots began as we were in the second part of the prayer, I heard people screaming Allahu Akbar [God is Great] and I knew there was something wrong,” said Ramadan.

“When I ran to that part of the demonstration, I started hearing shots, and I saw bodies on the ground, people falling next to me.”

Military views

The military offered conflicting reports, with chief spokesman Ahmed Ali saying that at 4am armed men attacked troops in the area around the Republican Guard compound.

“The armed forces always deal with issues very wisely, but there is certainly also a limit to patience,” Mr Ali told a crowded news conference, at which he presented what he said was video evidence, some of it apparently taken from a helicopter.

Emergency services said 435 people were wounded.

There was pandemonium at the main hospital in Nasr City to receive the wounded, with hundreds of wounded spilling out of the casualty wards into hallways crowded with distraught and grieving relatives.

“This was the bloodiest day in my tears as an orthopaedic surgeon at this hospital,” Dr Haythem Awad told Fairfax Media. “I am sure that from the people I treated today, there will be more dead than they (the army) is admitting.”

Dr Awad said one of the patients he treated had been shot twice in the foot and lower leg.

“He was actually hiding behind a tree, and it tells me that there were a lot of bullets in the air, they were not just aiming at a few who were trying to cause trouble.”

‘Pleased’ with shootings

While Dr Awad was being interviewed, he was interrupted by an unnamed passer-by who shouted that he was pleased that the army had fired on the demonstrators.

“This will teach them,” the man shouted. “I am very happy this has happened.”

Al Jazeera’s Egypt channel showed footage from inside a makeshift clinic near the scene of the violence, where Mursi supporters attempted to treat bloodied men.

Seven dead bodies were lined up in a row, covered in blankets and an Egyptian flag. A man placed a portrait of Mursi on one of the corpses.

Footage broadcast by Egyptian state TV showed Mursi supporters throwing rocks at soldiers in riot gear on one of the main roads leading to Cairo airport.

Young men, some carrying sticks, crouched behind a building, emerging to throw petrol bombs before retreating again.

Footage posted on YouTube on Monday showed a man on a rooftop wearing what appeared to be a military helmet opening fire with a rifle five times, apparently in the direction of a crowd in the street below.

In the video clip, which could not be independently verified, two bloodied men were shown carried away unconscious.

State-run television showed soldiers carrying a wounded comrade along a rock-strewn road, and news footage showed a handful of men who looked like protesters firing crude handguns.


At the nearby Rabah Adawiyah Mosque, which has been the main gathering point for supporters of the ex-president, who are drawn mainly from the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood, tens of thousands of people gathered throughout the day to vent their fury at the massacre.

Chants ringing out among the crowd were “to die like the martyrs, or give us justice”, and “Sisi is a killer, Sisi  is a butcher, Sisi is a cheater”, referring to General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of the armed forces who led last week’s coup.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders urged their supporters to rise up against the army.

“The massacre at the Republican Guard defies description,” said Mohamed El-Beltagy, a leading member of the Brotherhood’s political wing, on its Facebook page.

As an immediate consequence of the clash, the ultra-conservative Islamist Nour party, which initially backed the military intervention, said it was withdrawing from talks to form an interim government for the transition to new elections.

A spokesman for the interim presidency, Ahmed Elmoslmany, said work on forming the government would go on, though Nour’s withdrawal could seriously undermine efforts at reconciling rival factions.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Slow speed blamed for Asiana flight crash

Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 is engulfed on the tarmac after crash landing at San Francisco. Photo: SuppliedThe Asiana Airlines jet that crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport was traveling at just 106 knots (196 km per hour) when it hit a rocky seawall short of the runway, or 31 knots slower than the flight crew’s intended landing speed, federal investigators said Monday.     The drastically reduced landing speed – roughly 196 km per hour, rather than 257 – was being used even though the Boeing 777’s two engines were working when it crashed Saturday morning, said National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah  Hersman.

Speaking at a news conference to discuss the crash of Flight 214, which killed two teenagers from China and injured scores more, Hersman said the aircraft reached its lowest speed of 103 knots three seconds before impact, and at that moment the crew was throttling the engines in a last-second attempt to speed up.     The plane lost so much speed, Hersman said, that a vibrating ‘‘shaker stick’’ in the cockpit signaled an impending stall, a condition in which the wings lose lift and a plane can’t be controlled.     Shocked

Aviation experts said they were shocked the jet had lost so much speed and that the crew apparently made no effort to speed up until the final seconds. The crew first sought to accelerate 7.5 seconds before impact, investigators said, and with 1.5 seconds left, someone in the cockpit said the crew would try to pull up and circle around.     ‘‘That’s astounding,’’ said Kevin  Hiatt, a former chief pilot for Delta Airlines who heads the Flight Safety  Foundation in Alexandria, Va. ‘‘If 137 (knots) is the designated approach speed and they got to 103, there’s a wow factor there. Your tolerance on an approach is generally plus or minus five knots on a clear day.’’     Hiatt said the slow speed raised the question of whether the pilot – who was in training to fly the 777 – thought he had an automatic throttle engaged to set the plane at a targeted speed. The safety board said the throttles were set to idle during the approach.     Hiatt also wondered how it was possible for the pilot and his training captain to not notice the loss of speed.     ‘‘I would expect they would feel it, and I would expect that one of the other pilots would have pointed it out a lot sooner,’’ Hiatt said. ‘‘With the check pilot being there, I’m surprised it wasn’t revealed earlier. It’s unusual, there’s no doubt about it.’’     Hiatt said the plane likely stalled before crashing, essentially floating through the last few seconds. Had the plane cleared the seawall and made the runway in such a stall, he said, the crew still might not have avoided the disaster.     Hersman said it was too early to discuss possible causes of the crash or whether the pilot or the other three members of the crew might be at fault. The flight originated in Hangzhou, stopped over in Seoul, and was carrying 307 people on its 11-hour leg to San Francisco.     But Hersman said everything seemed to be going fine as the plane began its approach to the airport — a straight 17-mile path on a clear day.     She said the descent was not unusually steep. The autopilot was disengaged at 1,600 feet, or 82 seconds prior to impact, which was a standard move. Nine seconds later, at 1,400 feet, the plane was going 173 knots, Hersman said, but it slowed rapidly from there.

50 per cent power  

When the plane reached its lowest speed, she said, the engines were at about 50 per cent power and the engine power was increasing. According to aviation experts, airplane engines that have been set at idle do not respond immediately to being throttled back up.

Hersman said the two 16-year-old girls who died – Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia, who were on a summer educational trip from Jiangshan City, China – were sitting near the back of the plane, which suffered more structural damage than the front.    ‘‘It’s an area where we’re seeing a lot of the serious injuries as well,’’ Hersman said.     Hersman said her team was looking into reports from survivors of the crash that one or more escape chutes deployed into the aircraft instead of outside of it. ‘‘We need to determine why that happened,’’ she said.     Hersman also said the San Mateo County Coroner is leading an investigation into whether one of the two teenagers who died was run over by an emergency vehicle. Both of their bodies were found outside the aircraft.     Ninth flight

An Asiana spokeswoman, reached in Seoul, identified the chief pilot as Lee Jeong-min, who joined Asiana in 1996. She said Lee Kang-guk, who has been with the airline since 1994 and has logged more than 10,000 flying hours, was at the controls during the landing.     Saturday’s flight was the ninth time Lee Kang-guk had flown a Boeing 777, and it was his first time landing that type of plane at SFO, said spokeswoman Hyomin Lee. She said that technically Lee Kang-guk was still training on the 777, but given his years of his experience, ‘‘training is an unsuitable word to describe him.’’     He had landed a Boeing 747, another large-capacity plane, at SFO ‘‘many, many times,’’ she said. ‘‘He was very experienced.’’     Hiatt said the pilot’s experience would be looked at closely, but added, ‘‘That’s not an uncommon scenario. You’ll have a check pilot with you until you they determine you are capable to fly without a check pilot.’’

San Francisco Chronicle

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Stellar Securities locked out by landlord

Stellar Securities staff have been locked out of the company’s Perth office.Small Perth stockbroking outfit Stellar Securities has been locked out of its Perth offices after failing to pay its rent.

The firm was a major sponsor of businessman Tony Sage’s A-League soccer club Perth Glory.

Staff of Stellar Securities turned up on Monday to find the doors of their plush St Georges Terrace office locked by the landlord, who claims rent has gone unpaid for several months.

Stellar Securities operates from 108 St Georges Terrace in the Perth CBD, the same office once owned by the fallen entrepreneur Alan Bond and home to one of his best-known purchases, Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises painting.

A notice on Stellar Securities’ door said on Monday: ”The Landlord has re-taken possession of these premises.” The sign directed inquiries and deliveries to Stellar managing director and founder Nathan Barbarich.

Mr Barbarich, formerly of ABN Amro, and director Kent Hunter, also a director of Cazaly Resources, have not responded to numerous calls.

Tony Sage has close business ties with a number of Stellar Securities directors. Mr Sage and the offices of a number of stockbroking firms linked to him were raided by the Australian Federal Police as part of a tax investigation just before Christmas.

Mr Sage yesterday would not comment on the investigation or raids that had occurred in and around Perth just before Christmas. He did confirm that Stellar Securities was no longer a major sponsor of the football club he owns. ”We have an announcement of a new major sponsor early next week,” he said.

The eviction notice at Stellar Securities follows a spate of employee departures from the 18-month-old business and comes amid tough times in the industry.

One-time director Terry Gardiner said he left Stellar Securities 2½ weeks ago due a ”difference of opinion” on the company’s direction, but remained a shareholder.

Declining to say whether Stellar Securities was profitable on his departure, Mr Gardiner nonetheless said he wasn’t aware of any recent troubles.

”Like every other broking firm in Australia, it’s doing it tough,” he said. ”Volumes right across Australia in the broking sector have dried up, and WA is more exposed to the junior sector than the rest of Australia.”

Stellar is estimated to have fewer than 20 employees.

According to its website, Stellar offers securities trading, corporate advisory and capital raisings, research, funds management, private capital investment, mergers and acquisitions.

Stellar Securities’ four Melbourne employees are believed to have severed ties with the company last week.

It is believed that a number of larger stockbroking firms are keen to take over Stellar’s former Melbourne output.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

MasterChef recap: Forces of Heaven and Hell in all-out-battle

Day Two of MasterChef’s Heaven and Hell Week, and after last night, when we found out that God loves scampi and Satan enjoys macarons or something, tonight we see a knock-em*down, drag-em-out battle between the forces of Hell (Kelty) and Heaven (everyone who isn’t Kelty).

We begin with the theme tune, which assumes an added poignancy given we know tonight’s loser will indeed be hot and then cold, being hurled into the lake of fire, before their soul is left to wander the icy wastes of oblivion for all eternity.

In the MasterChef house Daniel is going for a swim – ladies – and standing over Kelty’s bed annoying him.

We also discover that Lucy and Pip are the best of friends, and it would be really hard for Lucy to wake up in the room without Pip, because Lucy is apparently five years old.

In the kitchen, Gary speaks very slowly and says “heaven” and “hell” very loudly, as if speaking to people with learning disabilities. “Don’t worry,” says Matt, but clearly there is a lot to worry about, particularly the guest chef, whose name is Ian Curley and who is a terrifying presence particularly for those people who know who that is.

He introduces himself by saying something which I swear to God is “I’m the size of a pretzel”. I … I don’t know what that means, but I’m pretty sure that’s what he said. Already things are getting a bit disturbing.

1. Ian reveals that the first dish to be cooked will be steak tartare. He notes that it’s easy because you don’t have to cook it, and yes with this lot that will be an advantage.

They taste the dish to see what it is they’ll be “cooking”. Kelty is trying to concentrate on what’s in his mouth. I’ll repeat that: Kelty is trying to concentrate on what’s in his mouth. So you know, you can fill in your own gaps there.

Pip informs us that she doesn’t want to go into the second round, and so has radically revised her strategy and now plans to try to be good. She then tells us that “the first thing Luce and I do is go straight to the ingredients”, and the realisation begins to dawn on the audience that the producers must have had very little useable footage from this day’s shoot.

Meanwhile, Kelty is starting to eat plastic as the pressure builds and he babbles deliriously about jumping on pumpernickel.

Daniel has decided to do his crackers first. Ian seems to think this is a bad idea. Daniel remains convinced it’s a good idea. And to be fair, Ian is probably just trying to make him feel bad. These pretzel-men are all the same.

2. Over at Pip’s station, her mind is starting to race, and she reiterates that she doesn’t want to be in an elimination. Let us be quite clear about this: Pip does not want to be eliminated. It’s time we put paid to all those rumours to the contrary.

“The devil is in the detail,” states Gary Mehigan, noted theologian, and taking this advice to heart, Kelty tells us some things we already know. Lucy is less successful at detail-attending to, as her pumpernickel is fighting for its life. “I’m not sure I needed it enough,” she says, and certainly it seems to be suffering from cripplingly low self-esteem.

“I’m glad everyone’s concentrating on the crackers, and not worrying too much about the beef,” says Ian, with the kind of smile a man only wears when he knows that he’ll be pulling people’s fingernails out within the hour.

No time to dwell on sadism though: it’s time for Kelty to exclaim “I’m now samurai man!” like some kind of drug-addled ape, and start doing chopping motions with his hands and making weird burbling noises. “What have you got in the bowl?” George asks him. Kelty doesn’t really seem very sure what he has in the bowl: he’s been blacking out a lot today.

“Your bench is your brain,” says Ian, which isn’t likely to help Kelty’s state of mind – what the hell does that mean? His bench is inside his skull? His brain is covered with flour and strips of beef? The whole conversation is like a kangaroo fight on acid.

3. Lucy has put lemon juice into her beef. Vern is disgusted. He can’t watch Lucy destroy her future like this. Ian is a bit worried about Lucy – whether this is because of her steak tartare or just because he thinks she’s looking a bit peaky he doesn’t specify.

“It’s like looking at a car accident,” says Jules, who apparently chuckles and smirks when she looks at car accidents. Up on the balcony they’re all shouting useless advice at everyone.

The clock is ticking down! Will they plate up before time is up? The pressure is on! Oh look! They all made it just in the nick of time! Again! Amazing!

Pip thinks she might be in trouble because she has no crackers on her plate, although as Lynton and Neha demonstrated last night, not actually completing the assigned task isn’t always a handicap. At least not when you’re up against Kelty.

It’s tasting time: who will be in the heaven of safety, and who will have to undergo the hell of the second…oh god no let’s stop this now. Lucy’s steak tartare has the beautiful grey appearance of a blob of cat food, thanks to her lemon juice atrocity. “You’ve really missed the complexity and interest,” says Gary, who is coming dangerously close to revealing that he actually has no idea how to cook at all.

4. Pip’s steak, while looking less like cat food (but still a bit like cat food because that’s basically what steak tartare is), suffers from having no crackers on the plate at all. Also her textures are rubbish. “It’s almost a shame that a cow died for that,” says Ian, which is a bit rich – it’s raw beef, nobody should be eating it in the first place.

It’s now time for Kelty to explain all the crap he’s put in his tartare. The judges think his is pretty good, but Ian still doesn’t like him much. The boys are safe and the girls are through to the second round, which is surprising given a few weeks ago it was firmly established that women are good at cooking and men are not.

Lucy and Pip are devastated, because one of them is going to be eliminated, and like all MasterChef contestants, they have been informed by the producers that eliminated contestants are taken away and killed following the elimination challenge. Gary tells Pip that it’s OK, but Pip is in tears, and she refuses to believe that it’s OK.

Lucy is also in tears: clearly Gary’s words are of no comfort whatsoever. If anything he seems to be making them cry more. Both women admit that when they entered the competition they wanted to win, but now confronted with the reality that winning might mean not seeing one of their friends for a month or so, it seems unbearably tragic.

Maybe it’s the background piano making them both act like such a couple of sooky twits.

5. Ian reveals the second-round dish. “Under that cloche is my hell,” says Pip, just before her head explodes.

An ad break later, we finally get to see what Pip’s hell is, and it turns out that it is some kind of porcupine frozen in carbonite. Ian calls it “custard bombe Alaska” for some reason. Pip is devastated. And terrified. A bombe Alaska killed her parents. Ian shows them what’s in the porcupine, and orders them not to cry: he is incapable of human feeling, so he doesn’t see anyone else should experience the joy of feeling.

Pip and Lucy run to the circular bench, and everyone on the balcony calls out, “Come on girls!” as if they both could win. But they can’t, guys – someone is going to lose. Pick a side.

“The first thing I do is make the fig ice-cream,” says Pip, which is apparently now considered acceptable behaviour in public. Kelty isn’t sure who’s going to win, and nobody else is sure why we’d want to know his opinion.

Within the circle, Ian is walking around watching them like some kind of pervert. “Turn your gas up,” he whispers hoarsely in Pip’s ear – a euphemism the meaning of which we frankly would rather not know. Meanwhile Lucy has put her custard on ice and started whisking it so it doesn’t get over-hot and my goodness this really hammers home what a weird and stupid activity cooking is, doesn’t it.

6. “I can’t really go home,” says Pip, and she means it – when she found out she was in MasterChef she burnt her house down.

There’s a lot of cooking going on. It’s strange. I don’t know why they bother with this bit. Why don’t they just buy some takeaway, let the judges taste it, have a bit of a cry, and move on to the next episode? “Don’t be afraid to tidy up,” says Ian, the passive-aggressive creep.

He gives pretzel-sized people a bad name. Lucy is trying not to over-whisk her egg whites – a problem for many women as they grow older. Kelty thinks it’s not over yet. Why we’re listening to him talk remains unexplained.

This entire dish seems to be stirring stuff and whipping stuff and pouring stuff into things. Pip thinks her meringue seems pretty cool, so she stops whipping – but this isn’t a popularity contest, Pip. It’s not about whose meringue is “cooler”; it’s about RESULTS. “It’s you that’s going home if you get it wrong,” says Ian, and Pip kicks him savagely in the crotch. No, not really, but god it’d be good if she had.

Anyway everyone’s yelling at Pip that if her meringue isn’t cool her life is over, and Pip feels the bowl and it’s warm, but she still thinks her meringue looks cool – it’s wearing these great retro slacks and a funky knitted hat. Who is right: Pip, who doesn’t seem to have the first idea what she’s doing; or the balcony people, who aren’t there and have no way of knowing what’s going on? It’s a difficult question to answer, which of these two incredibly ignorant sides is less ignorant?

7. Pip decides to ignore the evidence of her own senses and obey the idiots up above, and she starts whipping her meringue again. This earns her a smug pig of a look from Ian, who enjoys the pain of others. Pip may have over-whipped. It’s hard to tell. It’s also hard to care. But anyway she probably has, because she’s piping the meringue out and it’s a total shambles.

It’s no exaggeration to say that this meringue has been so poorly prepared that she will probably be arrested. She’ll have to be kept in isolation: convicts don’t take too kindly to people who go around with overly aerated meringues on their bombe Alaska.

Anyway it’s tasting time and Pip’s really proud of herself, though she doesn’t say for what. Her good marks at school probably. Gary asks her what her gut feeling is as to whether she’s staying or going. “I hope to god I’m staying,” says Pip, stubbornly refusing to answer the question.

The judges eat Pip’s bombe, and it turns out it’s delicious. Apart from the meringue, of course, which as discussed is a gross indecency and offence to God himself. “Stand tall and stand proud,” says George, but he’s one to talk.

Lucy presents her dessert, with the meringue that was not affected by peer pressure. There is much nodding. “Beautiful plump fig,” says George, possibly referring to the food. “The meringue doesn’t look appealing because it doesn’t have those beautiful little nipples,” he adds.

8. I simply don’t know what on earth is going on in this man’s head. Meringues don’t have nipples. They’re not mammals at all, in fact. I can only assume that George is literally sexually attracted to bombe Alaska.

It’s judging time – who will be forced to go home, thus separating these two bosom buddies forever because it seems they’re incapable of just exchanging email addresses and saying they’ll catch up after the show?

“We both feel sick, to be honest,” says Lucy, and who can blame them? They are probably still thinking about that steak tartare. It would seem the decision came down to one detail: the meringue. Oh dear, that means Pip is gone. The two women embrace and dissolve into sobs like it’s Sophie’s Choice.

And so, the idiots on the balcony have, once and for all, destroyed an innocent person’s dreams. I hope you’re happy with yourselves, you squawking harpies. “You need to keep whisking”, indeed. You disgust me and if there’s any justice something heavy will fall on all your heads next time you cook.

“I’m just going to keep cooking and hopefully make something of myself,” says Pip as she leaves, in what comes across as the saddest sentence every spoken out loud by anyone.

9. We find out that she’s started a catering business, but hard to see how it will succeed now that all its customers know it’s the catering business run by the woman who over-aerates her meringue.

Anyway let’s put this unpleasantness behind us and move on to tomorrow’s episode, wherein there’ll be some more dumb heaven and hell stuff.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

O’Brien begs for space from media

Harry O’Brien promotes the Knives Scar Lives campaign, 2010. Photo: Paul Rovere Star Collingwood player Harry O’Brien trains after revealing he is suffering depression. Photo: Jason South

O’Brien moved freely during his truncated session. Photo: Jason South

Overnight reportO’Brien out indefinitelyGreg Baum profile, 2010O’Brien on his father’s suicide, 2009

Collingwood star Harry O’Brien says sexual abuse, depression and suicide are behind the personal issues that saw him take time off from the club last week.

O’Brien has ceded his spot in Collingwood’s leadership group, as the premiership star battles personal “demons” and looks to regain his place in the team.

O’Brien returned to the Magpies on Tuesday and trained with the main group, although he left the field before match practice.

“I’m going through a history … of things for a long time, including a long and very complicated history of sexual abuse, suicide, depression, seeing someone get murdered, knowing that who murdered that person and not being able to say anything, knowing that person will probably murder you,” O’Brien told the media as he arrived for training,

He asked the media to give him some space and said that his minor altercation with coach Nathan Buckley last week was not a major issue compared to the personal issues he faced.

“When the time comes right, I will open up about these issues, but this is my personal experience and I have to do this in the public eye,” O’Brien said.

“And it’s really tough, so if you guys could just give me a bit of space because I am going through some real stuff … It’s really tough, really tough stuff…”

He asked reporters not to speculate about “the issue with Bucks” but to speculate about the abuse he had suffered.

“Whatever you guys have been reporting, that is secondary, this is my real stuff,” he said.

“The club has been fantastic in supporting and protecting me and they have tried to do that. I ask you guys to cooperate because I am going through some real stuff here.

“That’s the real issue here. You know, my demons that I’m starting to face.

“I just rattle off those issues and there’s even more, even more that I don’t feel comfortable in sharing.”

One of the matters troubling O’Brien is the aftermath of having witnessed a murder on Christmas Day 2011 in Brazil.

The half-back cum winger had spent four days at Port Douglas, missing the round 15 game against Carlton, with the blessing of the club, after reacting to a comment from Buckley last week. Buckley and club president Eddie McGuire refused to discuss the details of the disagreement.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said he had been aware of O’Brien’s issues, but did not know he would publicly reveal his condition. O’Brien has been vocal on a range of social issues, and had a run-in with McGuire over his now-infamous King Kong radio gaffe.

O’Brien joined training at 10am, leading the players out. He appeared to move freely, showing no signs of a reported ankle injury, and was in good spirits.

He left the track early, embracing club president McGuire on the way. They had been at loggerheads in recent times after McGuire’s racial gaffe.

O’Brien, who also has floating bone in his ankle, will not play against Adelaide on Friday night but could return a week later.

“He hasn’t trained for eight or nine days. Basically the last physical exercise that took place before today was the Port Adelaide game,” Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said on Tuesday.

“We will give him every opportunity to get back up to speed. When ‘H’ feels like he is ready to go, and we will feel it’s the right time, he will be back playing.”

“We have removed the burden of leadership from Harry. He won’t be in the leadership group for the remainder of the year and we will assess that going forward beyond that,” Buckley addd.

“What we are encouraging Harry to do at the moment is be there to support him, and for him to feel like what he needs to do to be in good shape.

After round one, O’Brien told SEN radio the murder he saw had affected him throughout 2012, when his form dipped. He indicated that he would talk more about the issue in the future.

“Christmas Day 2011 I watched someone get murdered. That was over in Brazil. Just coming back to Australia after Christmas, 2012, January. Just seeing the contrast in life and people complaining about the pettiest things… I just lost so much faith in the world really and it was a real grind last year.”

On 3AW, psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said that in his opinion O’Brien should not play football until he had undergone a full psychological assessment.

McGuire, on his Triple M breakfast program, said the club was giving O’Brien the support he needed.

“This is all about trying to do the right thing, to get him back.

“We have got the best doctors, the best psychiatrists, the best psychologists all working on the case.

“We love the guy, so just give him some space.” 

For help and information about depression contact Lifeline, 131 114, or www.lifeline杭州夜生活.au; Beyondblue, 1300 224 636, or www.beyondblue杭州夜生活.au.

with AAP

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.