Archive For 05/19/2019

Breakers get revenge NBL win on Melbourne

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Defending NBL champions New Zealand Breakers have reclaimed their status as title contenders after notching a pair of impressive wins in round seven.

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Shooting guard Corey Webster hit seven three-pointers on his way to a career-high 39 points – 14 of them in the fourth quarter – in the ultimate 80-69 revenge win over competition favourites Melbourne United on Sunday.

It was just two weeks ago that the NBL apologised for an incorrect unsportsmanlike call on Webster, who had been pinged for pushing off a flopping Chris Goulding on the game-deciding play.

However Webster exacted some sweet payback on the early MVP candidate, who was limited to just 13 points on 6-16 shooting.

“It’s always a good game when you’ve got a tough match-up like that,” Webster said.

“Obviously Chris is a great player in this league, but it was more just coming back home and trying to help out and get the win, do whatever it takes for my time and luckily I had a good shooting night.”

The victory means the Breakers have now won three on the trot, including their first away win of the season in Sydney on Thursday, to cement third spot on the ladder.

Improved forward Tom Abercrombie racked up 16 points and 15 rebounds against the Kings, who were held to a hapless 51-28 count on the boards and got zero field goals from Julian Khazzouh in star import Al Harrington’s final game for the club.

The loss leaves the NBL’s glamour club rooted to the bottom of the table with just three wins, although they do get star forward Josh Childress back from injury next week.

Harrington believes Sydney are still capable of climbing back into playoff contention.

“Add Josh and at the end of the day, this will be a playoff team. They’ve got what it takes,” he said.

Having begun the season with a remarkable nine-game winning streak, Melbourne have now been stung with three straight defeats, having also been upset by lowly Townsville 82-78 on Friday.

In the other games of the round, Adelaide’s up-and-down season continued after splitting their two-game weekend, losing a close one 94-88 against Perth before bouncing back with a 89-77 victory over Illawarra.

After a poor night against the Wildcats, centre Daniel Johnson responded with a monster game against the Hawks, scoring 15 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.

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Afghan reality singing show turns to Australia for talent

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It’s Afghanistan’s answer to Australian Idol.

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Afghan Star is one of the most watched shows in Afghanistan. 15 million people tune in each season, which is half the population.

Now in its 11th season, the competition has come to Sydney in a bid to find its next superstar.

Host Omid Nezami, a former contestant himself, said he was overwhelmed by the local talent.

“We said that even if we can find ten contestants we’re going to have a show. That from 10, even if one singer good this mission is going to be completed,” Mr Nezami told SBS.

“When we did the audition we had 30 contestants, and 15 of them – half – received a ticket to the next round.”

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Musician Afshin Mohammadi flew in from Tasmania to have a crack at the Sydney auditions.

“Actually it was really exciting for us, you know, because we couldn’t get much of an opportunity here,” he said.

Another contender is 19-year-old Eman Rawi from Brisbane.

He said he grew up watching the show, and would love to get a ticket to Kabul to compete in the show’s top 160.

“Our parents have been watching it, my grandma loves it, my family loves it, it reminds them of being back home you know,” he said.

“I’ve been a musician since I was young, working towards being a good musician. I just see this as a good opportunity. It’s a good platform.

“Our parents have been watching it, my grandma loves it, my family loves it, it reminds them of being back home you know.”

The minds behind Afghan Star said the show has a strong Australian connection, and that’s quite easy to see.

Judge Tahmina Arsalan, who has a strong following in Afghanistan, is Australian and moonlights by working at a bank.

Ms Arsalan said the show helps ease minds in a turbulent, war-torn country like Afghanistan.

“To give them that platform, to give them that opportunity to showcase their talents, it kind of diverts, even for a moment, from what is going on in that country,” she said.

While Afghan Star is all about uniting people through the love of music, it unfortunately isn’t short of detractors in the Islamic nation.

Death threats from the Taliban, who believe all music should be banned, occur on a daily basis.

But Mr Nezami said the reality show’s strong message of hope makes it all completely worth it.

“With music, with Afghan Star, I believe that singers are the messengers of peace,” he said.

Ms Arsalan called the performers at the Sydney auditions “like a breath of fresh air”.

“They are the younger generation and you know being Australian-Afghan myself, I feel good that so many people came,” she said.

Only three plane tickets to Kabul are up for grabs, with the finalists to be named next week.

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Brussels on lockdown in fear of Paris-style attacks

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Brussels was on terror lockdown Saturday in fear of a Paris-style attack, with a gunman wanted over the deadly rampage in the French capital a week ago still on the run.

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The Belgian capital closed its metro system and shuttered shops and public buildings as a terror alert was raised to its highest level over reports of an “imminent threat” of a gun and bomb attack similar to the horror seen in Paris.

The city’s historic Grand Place, usually bustling with tourists, was quiet, with just some stragglers crossing the cobblestones as an armoured vehicle stood outside the imposing town hall.

Investigators are working around the clock to track down Belgian-born Salah Abdeslam, one of the gunmen still on the loose after a coordinated wave of attacks on Parisian nightspots that left 130 people dead on November 13.

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Belgium-based jihadists are increasingly at the heart of the Paris probe, and police have intensified raids in the city’s immigrant districts in a rush to stop a repeat of Islamic State-inspired attacks that have killed hundreds around the world in recent weeks.

Prime Minister Charles Michel said authorities feared a “Paris-style” assault “with explosives and weapons at several locations”.

The carnage in Paris has put all of Europe on edge amid fears that IS extremists can move operatives freely among target countries in an abuse of the EU’s open-border Schengen zone system.

In Madrid, fans for Saturday’s El Clasico football match between Read Madrid and Barcelona were met by sniffer dogs, mounted police and countless identity checks.

In Turkey, police arrested a Belgian of Moroccan origin in connection with the Paris attacks in the resort of Antalya, the site of this week’s G20 summit, along with two other suspects, probably Syrians.

Ahmet Dahmani, 26, is accused of helping to scout the Paris attacks and then preparing to illegally cross the Turkish-Syrian border to rejoin IS after arriving in Turkey from Amsterdam on his Belgian passport.

‘All necessary measures’

The UN Security Council on Friday authorised nations to “take all necessary measures” to fight Islamic State (IS) jihadists after a wave of attacks across the world.

The UN resolution came after gunmen with an Al-Qaeda branch run by a notorious one-eyed Algerian militant besieged a luxury hotel in the Malian capital Bamako, killing 19 people, most of them foreigners.

Mali was struck a week after Paris and Beirut — where 44 people were killed in IS bombings — and three weeks after IS claimed to have downed a Russian plane in Egypt killing all 224 on board.

In grieving Paris, citizens defiantly filled cafe terraces Friday night to mark one week since the carnage, many observing a noisy minute of non-silence.

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Outside La Belle Equipe restaurant where 19 people were gunned down, a crowd stood under a light rain singing the Marseillaise anthem before whooping and yelling at 9:20 pm (2020 GMT), when the attacks started.

Benoit Seblain, drinking a beer at a cafe not far from the Bataclan where 89 people were massacred at a rock concert, said Parisians must “live like we did before”.

The country has been shaken to its core by the attacks and a subsequent shootout on Wednesday between police and jihadists holed up in a Paris apartment.

Suspected attack ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed in the raid along with his female cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen and an unidentified suicide bomber, who, according to DNA tests, is not known to police.

French police on Saturday released seven people arrested in he raid, but kept hold of Jawad Bendaoud, who has admitted lending the apartment to two people from Belgium “as a favour”.

Abaaoud was a notorious Belgian jihadist thought to be fighting in Syria, and his presence in Europe raised troubling questions about a breakdown in intelligence and border security.

The European Union agreed Friday to rush through reforms to the passport-free Schengen zone by the end of the year as France extended a ban on public gatherings until November 30 and the start of a UN climate summit.

‘Possible theories’

Seven attackers were killed or blew themselves up during their Paris assault, while a huge manhunt is under way for Salah Abdeslam, 26, who is believed to have fled to Belgium.

Abdeslam, whose brother Brahim blew himself up outside a Paris bar, may be equipped with a suicide belt, according to Hamza Attou, one of two suspects charged by Belgian authorities for allegedly helping Abdeslam return to Belgium after the attacks.

Attou’s lawyer Carine Couquelet told French TV her client has described Abdeslam as very nervous on the journey.

“There are many possible theories: was (Salah) a logistical support, was he supposed to blow himself up? Was he not able to do it? We don’t know.”

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SBS Radio Samoan program reflects a vibrant and growing community

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A Samoan Siva is a pacific island dance that tells a story.

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In a hall in western Sydney – more than 200 people have gathered to tell a story through both words and movement.

This gathering tells the tale of a thriving community raising money for a church back home.

SBS Samoan broadcaster and Pacific historian Ioane Lafoai said the church continued to have a strong influence on Samoan culture both here and in Samoa. 

” Samoans are very religious people. Christians. And where ever they go the Church goes.”

At this gathering each family presents a speech,  a dance – a donation – it’s an example of the strong role religion plays for Samoans here and back home.

But despite Christianity being introduced to Samoa by Europeans – Mr Lafoai explained it has taken on a uniquely local flavour.

“Oh they’ve Samoanised Christianity” 

Ioane Lafoai said it’s a community that’s seen rapid growth in the past 10 years.

“There’s been a massive migration especially from New Zealand, in the 90s and the early part of the 20th century.”

In 2011 there were 36,571 Samoan speakers in Australia with 15,000 arriving in the last 10 years.

Samoan speakers are mainly concentrated in large cities, such as Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Samoan is just one of four Pacific Island languages broadcasting on SBS radio including Tongan, Fijian and Cook Islands Maori.

President of the Sydney Samoan Council Leilua Jerry Uesele has been working with the community for many years.

He says like most migrant communities maintaining the language among younger generations is a challenge the community faces.

“We’ve migrated here and there. We originated in Samoa and we have a culture that has been maintained for 5000 years or so and the language is still intact in Samoa.”

Samoan was purely an oral language until it was rendered into a written form in the 19th century by English missionaries using a latin based script.

After the introduction of Christianity Mr Lafoai said literacy quickly became widespread.

“In fact there was a huge stigma, there still is for someone to be illiterate in Samoan and soon enough by the turn of the century it was one of the few countries that could boast a 100 percent literacy rate.”

SBS Radio is playing a part in maintaining the language.

For this SBS listener life in Australia is good, but hearing the Samoan language on SBS radio always makes him yearn for his first home.

“It has that feeling that it says you are Samoan – deep inside you are a Samoan.”

As Samoan as the movements of an island Siva.

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Moderate Islam PM’s lesson

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Southeast Asian leaders’ strong denouncement of violent extremism is the prime minister’s take-home message, as he returns from abroad to review the nation’s readiness for an attack.

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Countering terrorism dominated talks at the East Asia Summit, where Malcolm Turnbull told reporters Australia was intensifying its intelligence co-operation with regional partners.

Following his first bilateral talks with his host, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, Mr Turnbull stressed the importance of moderate voices to counter the recruiting of youths to radical causes, particularly online.

“Effective counter messaging, counter narratives, of moderation, to quote the Malaysian prime minister, are very important,” he said.

Terrorism has been top of mind in Malaysia, with intelligence surfacing days before the ASEAN and related summits that tipped police to the possible presence of 10 suicide bombers in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Najib has used the summit to condemn Islamic State as “un-Islamic”, and not representative of any race or religion: “they are terrorists”.

Mr Turnbull says he’s remained in close contact with defence, ASIO and police heads while he’s been attending the international summits in the past fortnight, a period rocked by the attacks in France and Mali.

Early on Monday he will head a meeting of the national security committee.

The nation’s terror alert level remains at high, where it has been since September last year.

Australia and Malaysia meanwhile upgraded their relationship to a “strategic partnership” on Sunday, meaning the foreign ministers will meet every year and have closer dialogues on defence.

Mr Najib said the relationship had strengthened over the 60 years Australia had had a diplomatic presence there, developing through defence, business, education and sport.

“Relations between Malaysia and Australia are on a very strong footing and there’s a lot of opportunity for us to deepen and enhance that relationship that has been a very important relationship over the years,” he said.

The leaders also discussed the continuing search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370, and its 239 passengers and crew, for which China on Saturday made a $20 million contribution.

The East Asia Summit brings together the 10 ASEAN countries with China, India, Russia, the US, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

It wraps up Mr Turnbull’s first foreign summit circuit, which began with a stopover in Jakarta to meet President Joko Widodo on November 12.

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