Potential suitors eye off Elders

Elders is attracting interest from potential buyers amid signs the troubled agribusiness has finally turned a corner after a painful six years for its shareholders.

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Elders says it has been approached by a number of potential suitors but none have come forward with a formal takeover offer.

“Elders has received a number of informal, incomplete and confidential approaches from several parties,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

“None of those approaches is definite and in a form capable of consideration by the Elders board.”

Macquarie Private Wealth division director Lucinda Chan said the company was an attractive target after selling off troubled assets and refocusing on its agribusiness division.

“The business has been refocused and its starting to turn around so obviously someone’s starting to put the ruler over them,” she told AAP.

“If there are any potential suitors, we’ll find out soon enough who they are.”

The company has been a basket case, from an investor’s point of view, in recent years, with its share price dropping from more than $27 in 2007 to as low as six cents in 2013.

However, its shares have climbed more than 50 per cent in the past month, helped along by an improved half year result and takeover speculation.

The stock closed flat at 22.5 cents on Tuesday.

The company last year rebuffed a takeover offer from rival Ruralco.

Elders posted a $10 million first half loss in May, which was a significant improvement on the $303 million deficit for the same period last year.

At the time managing director Mark Allison said the business was finally improving following the restructure.

“We see this as the start of the `pure play’ agribusiness journey and a sound outcome for the first six months although we do acknowledge there is a little way to go,” he said.

“The second half outlook is positive, subject to seasonal conditions, and we expect ongoing improvement against last year’s results.”

Soward ready for Penrith halves challenge

Penrith playmaker Jamie Soward says he will take on more responsibility but won’t change his style in the absence of halves partner Peter Wallace.

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The first-placed Panthers have suffered a rare speed bump in their golden NRL season so far, with confirmation they’ll be missing their captain and halfback for between four to six weeks due to an ankle and knee problem.

Exciting young back rower Tyrone Peachey has been given the nod to shift to five-eighth in Wallace’s place, meaning Soward will wear the No.7 jersey against Brisbane on Monday night.

The Panthers are determined to ensure Wallace’s injury doesn’t trigger a slide in form and Soward is adamant the best way to maintain consistency is for him to avoid overplaying the situation.

“He’s obviously a massive loss for us but in saying that the systems we’ve had in place have been in place for a long while now,” Soward said.

“It’s not going to change the way I play and I think it would be pretty disappointing for Ivan (coach Ivan Cleary) if I had to change my game to try and do everything.

“It will just come down to me calling a few more sets and organising a bit more.”

Coach Cleary has avoided the temptation to search for a like-for-like replacement for Wallace and pluck a more natural playmaker like Luke Capewell or Tom Humble from Penrith’s ladder-leading NSW Cup team.

But Soward said he has every faith in classy back rower Peachey, who filled the void in Sunday’s win over Wests Tigers when Wallace left the field.

“Tyrone is very talented and has a lot of skills,” he said.

“He has a skill set a lot of back rowers don’t have.”

Wallace still requires further scans, but testing has ruled out the possibility he has a season-ending syndesmosis ankle injury or that he requires surgery.

It seems the bigger problem might be a medial ligament injury in his knee.

Either way he’ll be in a restrictive boot for the next couple of weeks to fast-track his healing process.

The Panthers’ fairy-tale climb to the top of the table has been questioned in some quarters of the game, with critics claiming Penrith have received an arm-chair ride with a favourable draw.

But Soward said such talk was nonsensical and disrespectful to the teams they’ve played.

“In the NRL we don’t pick who we play. We’re playing who the draw says we play. Every other year for the last 100 years you play who the draw says you play. You don’t pick and choose,” he said.

Finger device reads aloud to the blind

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words.

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The so-called FingerReader, a prototype produced by a 3D printer, fits like a ring on the user’s finger, equipped with a small camera that scans text. A synthesised voice reads words aloud, quickly translating books, restaurant menus and other needed materials for daily living, especially away from home or office.

Reading is as easy as pointing the finger at text. Special software tracks the finger movement, identifies words and processes the information. The device has vibration motors that alert readers when they stray from the script, said Roy Shilkrot, who is developing the device at the MIT Media Lab.

For Jerry Berrier, 62, who was born blind, the promise of the FingerReader is its portability and offer of real-time functionality at school, a doctor’s office and restaurants.

“When I go to the doctor’s office, there may be forms that I wanna read before I sign them,” Berrier said.

He said there are other optical character recognition devices on the market for those with vision impairments, but none that he knows of that will read in real time.

Berrier manages training and evaluation for a federal program that distributes technology to low-income people in Massachusetts and Rhode Island who have lost their sight and hearing. He works from the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts.

“Everywhere we go, for folks who are sighted, there are things that inform us about the products that we are about to interact with. I wanna be able to interact with those same products, regardless of how I have to do it,” Berrier said.

Pattie Maes, an MIT professor who founded and leads the Fluid Interfaces research group developing the prototype, says the FingerReader is like “reading with the tip of your finger and it’s a lot more flexible, a lot more immediate than any solution that they have right now.”

Developing the gizmo has taken three years of software coding, experimenting with various designs and working on feedback from a test group of visually impaired people. Much work remains before it is ready for the market, Shilkrot said, including making it work on mobile phones.

Bomb attack in Nigeria capital ‘kills at least 16’

No group has claimed responsibility for the latest attack, but suspicion immediately fell on Boko Haram, the extremist Islamist group which has killed thousands in a five-year insurgency.

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The explosion rocked the crowded Nyanya bus terminal just a few kilometres from central Abuja at roughly 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) and emergency workers were at the scene trying to rescue the injured, said Manzo Ezekiel, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

   

He told AFP that the work was complicated by darkness at the station, which is very poorly lit after sundown.

   

A bombing on April 14 that targeted morning commuters at the Nyanya terminal killed 75 people, making it the deadliest attack ever in Abuja.

   

Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau, declared a global terrorist by the United States, said his group carried out the April 14 bombing in a video message obtained by AFP.

   

Speaking at the nearby Asokoro General Hospital, NEMA chief Muhammad Sani Sidi told journalists that a car packed with explosives blew up “just 50 metres” from the spot of the April 14 blast.

   

An AFP reporter at the hospital counted nine dead bodies which had been brought from Nyanya and a witness at the same hospital who requested anonymity said he had seen at least seven other corpses arrive.

   

In a statement, NEMA confirmed nine deaths so far and said at least 11 people had been left unconscious.

   

Victims were being treated at several other area hospitals, Sidi said.

   

“We are checking with various hospitals to ensure the accuracy of the number we are going to issue,” he told journalists.

   

Much of Boko Haram’s recent violence has targeted the remote northeast, the group’s historic stronghold, where more than 1,500 people have been killed already this year.

   

A second attack in two weeks just a few kilometres from the seat of government highlighted the serious threat the Islamists pose to Africa’s most populous country and largest economy.

   

President Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense pressure over the unrest, which has continued unchecked despite a massive year-long military offensive in the northeast aimed at crushing Boko Haram’s uprising.

   

The Nyanya station was completely inaccessible after Thursday’s blast, with the one access road blocked and cars backed up for several kilometres, an AFP reporter said.

   

Ezekiel, who said he lives near Nyanya and heard the bomb go off, described the road leading to the station as “jam packed”, adding that ambulances and rescue workers were struggling to reach the area.

   

The bombing came amid mounting public outrage after one of Boko Haram’s most shocking attacks, the mass kidnapping of more than 100 girls from their school in the northeast.

   

Officials and locals have offered contradictory figures for the number of girls taken, but the school’s principal has said that 187 are still being held hostage.

   

Boko Haram, which says it wants to create a strict Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, has attacked schools, churches, mosques and various symbols of authority in an insurgency that has killed thousands since 2009.

Snapchat adds real-time chat

Snapchat is adding a chat feature to its ephemeral messaging service.

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Despite its name, the Snapchat app has never offered real-time conversation – until now. Previously, users were only able to send each other photos and videos that self-destruct a few seconds after they are viewed.

The Los Angeles startup said on Thursday that Snapchat users will be able to chat by swiping right on a friend’s name. When users leave the chat screen, messages will be automatically deleted. In keeping with Snapchat’s tradition, users can take screenshots of the chat if they want to preserve it.

Users will also be able to video chat, as they would with Skype or FaceTime.

Snapchat’s expansion comes at a time when mobile messaging apps are soaring in popularity as people look beyond traditional texting to communicate and share photos and videos. Some apps also accommodate more than just texts and photos, making them all the more appealing. Tango, for instance, allows music to be shared through Spotify’s streaming service. KakaoTalk lets people share voice memos and location, along with animated emoticons.

In one example of mobile messaging’s increasing value, Facebook, which reportedly has tried to acquire Snapchat for $US3 billion ($A3.25 billion), agreed to buy WhatsApp for $US19 billion in February. WhatsApp has half a billion users, up from 465 million in February. In comparison, Twitter had has 255 million users.

Other popular messaging apps include Facebook’s own messenger, as well as Tango, which has some 200 million users and recently received a $US215 million investment from China’s Alibaba Group. Another one, Viber Media, sold for $US900 million earlier this year to Japan’s Rakuten Inc.

Aussie Robertson behind in snooker semi

Australian Neil Robertson will have to come from behind to make the World Championship Snooker decider after giving up a first day lead to Englishman Mark Selby in their semi-final.

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Robertson, fresh from a quarter-final win over Judd Trump in which he became the first player to make 100 competitive century breaks in a tour season, again enjoyed a three-figure break – 130 on the final frame of the day.

But he was playing catch-up with Selby who established a 5-3 lead on Thursday at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

Robertson does however have recent history on his side having come from 5-1 down to beat Selby 10-7 in the final of the UK Championship, snooker’s second-most important tournament, in December.

Meanwhile Ronnie O’Sullivan maintained his charge towards a third successive World Championship title as he established a 6-2 lead over Barry Hawkins in the first session of their semi-final.

O’Sullivan has been in fine form during his pursuit of a sixth world crown of his career since coming from behind to defeat Joe Perry in the second round.

O’Sullivan swept past Shaun Murphy, himself a former world champion, in the quarter-finals with a session to spare and, in a repeat of last year’s final, wasted little time in establishing a four-frame lead in the best of 33 contest.

He took the first of the semi-final with a break of 63 before Hawkins levelled with a contribution of 96 and briefly went ahead with a break of 76.

But it was one-way traffic from then on, Hawkins’s mistakes and O’Sullivan’s skill seeing the champion, who made a break of 108 in the seventh frame before a missed red from his opponent let him take the next, pull ahead.

Tear gas at Turkish May Day protests

Turkish police have fired water cannons at protesters and some 100,000 workers have paraded in Moscow’s iconic Red Square as millions took to the streets around the world to mark International Labour Day.

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Demonstrators were out in force on May 1 in parts of Europe, marching against unemployment and austerity policies while across Asia, workers turned out to demand better working conditions and salary hikes.

In Istanbul, hundreds of riot police fired tear gas and water cannons against protesters as they tried to breach barricades leading to Taksim square on the anniversary of clashes that spawned a nationwide protest movement.

Even larger crowds gathered for May Day in Russia – but this time in support of their government – as a huge column of demonstrators waving Russian flags and balloons marched through Red Square to voice their support for President Vladimir Putin and his hardline stance on the Ukraine crisis.

The 100,000-strong march was the first time that the cobblestoned Moscow landmark had witnessed a May Day parade since the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.

The tone was markedly different in Greece, where thousands marched in the country’s two main cities of Athens and Salonika against austerity policies brought in during a disastrous debt crisis that led to mass lay-offs.

In Italy’s Turin, scuffles broke out between police and hundreds of protesters. Activists lobbed smoke bombs at police, who charged demonstrators in the northern industrial city, which has been badly hit by a painful two-year recession.

Thousands marched in France, with the biggest rallies in Paris and other major cities such as Bordeaux and Toulouse targeting the Socialist government’s budget cuts to rein in the deficit.

Rallies also took place across Africa, Asia, Latin America and parts of the Middle East.

For Venezuelans, the focus was on wealthier suburbs of the capital, Caracas, as protesters took the opportunity for another rally against President Nicolas Maduro. Around 3000 people called for an end to the chronic shortages that have beset the country.

In Indonesia, protesters carrying portraits of leftist idols such as Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and the country’s first president Sukarno, marched to the state palace in Jakarta.

Some sang and danced as others carried a three-metre-long toy octopus wearing a red hat with the words “Capitalist Octopus, Sucking the Blood of Workers”.

About 20,000 people rallied in Kuala Lumpur against price hikes implemented by Malaysia’s long-ruling government, which already is under domestic and international scrutiny over its handling of the search for a missing passenger jet that disappeared on March 8.

More than 10,000 workers marched to the labour ministry in Taiwan’s capital Taipei, demanding wage hikes and a ban on companies hiring cheap temporary or part-time workers.

Bombers aim to fly up the AFL ladder

No one is more relieved than teammate Jake Melksham to see Heath Hocking back in the Essendon lineup.

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The Bombers are on a three-game AFL losing streak and sit uncomfortably on 2-4 after six rounds.

On Saturday night at Etihad Stadium they face the hard-nosed Western Bulldogs, who are ranked second for contested possessions.

The return of Hocking and club champion Brendon Goddard are causes for celebration for Essendon.

“BJ (Goddard) has that versatility where he can go back or forward,” Melksham told reporters on Friday.

“We’ve got Heath Hocking back who plays that really sacrificial role.

“So they are two bigger, experienced, stronger bodies who will boost our midfield.

“Heath is our tagger. I had to tag last week so I’m not sure if I’ll be tagging this week.

“It might make my job a little bit easier.

“I’ve experienced it first-hand, having to tag when he’s out of the team.

“The work that he does and the opponents that he comes up against are A-grade opponents. He’s very highly rated in our footy side.”

The Bulldogs are also on a 2-4 record and will be looking to ex-Bomber Stewart Crameri to continue his solid form.

Essendon’s three-time leading goalkicker has booted 14 majors for the Bulldogs.

Melksham dined with Crameri on Tuesday.

“He’s chosen to leave the footy club and we’re looking forward to playing him,” Melksham said.

“He was more worried about who is going to play on him. He is a tough match-up.”

Melksham says it’s a huge game for Essendon.

“The first six weeks were pretty tough for us and we’ve got that behind us,” he said.

“It’s a must-win. We need to get back up into the top eight.

“We want to be in the top four to be a contender in the finals.

“Our hard work really has to start from this week.”

Melksham says Jake Carlisle, who enjoyed a breakthrough season last year as a key defender but has struggled as a key forward in 2014 with three goals in six games, is showing signs of improvement.

“We just try to get him the ball as much as we can on the field. Our delivery hasn’t been great,” Melksham said.

“Around the club we’re just trying to get his confidence up.”

Former All-Australian defender Dale Morris returns for the Bulldogs, while Daniel Giansiracusa is one of four omissions.

US fossil find of biggest flying seabird

Fossilised bird bones uncovered in the US state of South Carolina represent the largest flying bird in history, with a wingspan of 6.

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4 metres, according to a study.

The Pelagornis sandersi’s wings were twice as long as the biggest modern-day seabird, the royal albatross, said the research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published on Monday.

Coupled with its long beak and sharp bony teeth, the enormous wings likely helped the bird master long periods of gliding over water in search of seafood some 25 to 28 million years ago.

However, the bird might have needed some help getting airborne, given that its wings were simply too long to flap easily from the ground.

Scientists believe it may have made a running start downhill, or used air gusts – much like a hang glider – to make its way aloft.

Once in the air, study author Dan Ksepka of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina, said the bird could probably soar for miles without ever flapping its wings.

“That’s important in the ocean, where food is patchy,” Ksepka said.

P. sandersi lived after the dinosaurs became extinct but before the first humans are known to have inhabited North America.

The bird’s wing and leg bones along with its complete skull were first discovered in 1983 near Charleston, South Carolina, during excavation work for a new international airport.

“The upper wing bone alone was longer than my arm,” said Ksepka, recalling that a backhoe was called in to help unearth the bones.

The bone measurements suggest that the bird’s wingspan was between 6.06 and 7.38 metres, according to the PNAS article.

The fossils of the P. sandersi shed light on the flying ability of a remarkable bird, but also raise new questions about the group of bony toothed seabirds known as pelagornithids, which disappeared some 2.5 million years ago.

These ancient birds were “remarkably efficient flyers” that were found across all seven continents, making “the cause of their ultimate extinction all of the more mysterious”, said the study.

Business confidence lifts in June

Australian firms have shrugged off the sharp slide in consumer sentiment since the federal budget, with business confidence increasing in the past month.

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The closely-watched National Australia Bank monthly business survey shows sentiment improved in June despite fears the budget will see consumers reluctant to open their wallets.

Consumer sentiment dived to its lowest level in three years in the wake of the May budget but businesses have remained relatively upbeat.

The NAB survey shows business sentiment lifted one point to an index level of eight; a reading above zero indicates optimists outnumber pessimists.

Meanwhile, Business conditions moved into positive territory during June, lifting three points to an index level of two during the month, according to the survey.

The rise in sentiment coincided with a sharp lift in job advertisements, with ANZ’s job ads survey on Monday showing a 4.3 per cent increase in ads during June.

NAB chief economist Alan Oster said the increase in confidence was unexpected and showed businesses continued to expect an improvement in trading conditions.

“Firms still appear to have shrugged off the negative consumer reaction to the Federal budget,” he said.

“Business confidence has remained resilient for the better part of a year despite below average business conditions.”

The NAB survey showed confidence was strongest in the construction industry, which has been spurred on by strong growth in residential building approvals, while the mining sector also recorded a surprise improvement in confidence, despite difficult conditions.

Why ISIL militia may be sputtering

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, the militia that has overrun much of northern and western Iraq in recent days, may be on the brink of sputtering out.

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Exhibit A: This past Sunday, the first day of Ramadan, the leader of ISIL, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared himself the “caliph” — the holy leader — of a new Islamic state and ordered all Muslims, not just in the region but worldwide, to pay obeisance to him and to no other Muslim leader.

Only a small fraction of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims have the slightest interest in recreating the caliphate of the seventh century, and many of those who do have someone else in mind as caliph.

Some may take this as a sign of his movement’s growing strength and confidence. But if the history of grandiose caliph-wannabes is consulted (and Juan Cole has assembled the wild chronicle), it resembles more a sign of delusion and desperation.

Only a small fraction of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims have the slightest interest in recreating the caliphate of the seventh century, and many of those who do have someone else in mind as caliph. Some of these dissidents live in the ISIL leader’s neighborhood, not least the followers of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of al-Qaida.

And so we are seeing the deepening of a fissure within Sunni radicalism — a split has been growing rancorous for some time.

American troops had this same problem during the early occupation: They would clear a town of bad guys and move on to the next town — at which point the bad guys would come back. Strategists referred to this as a failure to “clear and hold.” ISIL is clearing, but they’re not holding.

The most obvious sign of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s pretentiousness is that the ground his men have overrun hardly constitutes a nation-state. He hasn’t set up a government, collected taxes, provided services, created institutions, or done any of the other things that real states routinely do all over the planet.

Another sign: Baghdadi has plundered certain Iraqi cities, but it can’t be said that he’s conquered them. By all accounts, ISIL troops marauding through Iraq number fewer than 10,000. This is not enough to storm Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah — and leave behind enough men in each place to control the terrain. American troops had this same problem during the early occupation: They would clear a town of bad guys and move on to the next town — at which point the bad guys would come back. Strategists referred to this as a failure to “clear and hold.” ISIL is clearing, but they’re not holding.

In its first few days, the ISIL onslaught met no resistance. The Iraqi army — in Mosul, an entire division of American-trained soldiers — simply fled, leaving behind their uniforms, weapons, and vehicles. But this wholesale surrender had little to do with the military prowess or spiritual appeal of ISIL. In a paper published today by Caerus Associates, Yasir Abbas and Dan Trombly conclude — mainly from interviews with Iraqi soldiers and other insiders — that much of the Iraqi army had been crumbling for the past two years, as a result of corruption, lax maintenance, and the subsequent corrosion of morale.

Even so, once ISIL “cleared” Mosul and the other towns of Iraqi security forces, its armed men moved on. They left things in the hands of local Sunnis — mainly Baathists, officers from Saddam Hussein’s disbanded army, who consented to this alliance-of-convenience with ISIL because they shared its goal of overthrowing Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Shiite prime minister. But most of these Baathists are secular; they don’t share their tactical partners’ devotion to sharia law, much less Baghdadi’s demand to obey him as the one and only Muslim leader. Deborah Amos recently reported on NPR that many Christians, including the archbishop of the Chaldean church, have returned to Mosul after initially fleeing to Kurdistan, in part because the ISIL militiamen who scared them away are for the most part gone.

 Meanwhile, on a strictly military level, it’s worth noting that the maps showing who’s winning where in Iraq have hardly changed since the initial ISIL thrust. In Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, ISIL isn’t even the lead fighting force.

Meanwhile, on a strictly military level, it’s worth noting that the maps showing who’s winning where in Iraq have hardly changed since the initial ISIL thrust.

Amos says that at least 15 separate groups now control Mosul: In ISIL areas, people can’t smoke; in other areas they can. For the moment, all of them are united in their opposition to Maliki’s sectarian rule. Once that changes, whether because ISIL and its allies take the capital or because a new more conciliatory government comes to power, these enormous disagreements will come to the fore — and it’s not at all clear that the caliph’s followers will triumph.

Meanwhile, on a strictly military level, it’s worth noting that the maps showing who’s winning where in Iraq have hardly changed since the initial ISIL thrust. In Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, ISIL isn’t even the lead fighting force. And as ISIL and its allies darted southward toward the Shiite-dominant capital of Baghdad, Iraq’s security forces started putting up a fight; they were defending their homes, their sectarian solidarity, their state — and they got serious. They were joined by Shiite militias and Iran’s Quds special forces. Meanwhile, in the Sunni strongholds of western Iraq, ISIL positions have been bombed by Syrian air forces. Russia is now offering Iraq advanced combat jets (whether any Iraqi pilots know how to fly them is another matter). And of course, 300 American “advisers” are setting up a “joint operations center” to collect and coordinate vast amounts of intelligence — from drone and satellite imagery, cellphone and email intercepts, and on-the-ground reconnaissance. All of this can prove very helpful to the anti-ISIL fight (which let’s hope does not include — certainly it doesn’t have to include — U.S. armed forces directly).

None of this is to argue that ISIL (which now calls itself simply IS, for Islamic State) poses no threat. Thanks in part to its rampage in Mosul, where it seized many weapons and robbed several banks, the group may be the most well-armed and well-funded Islamist militia in the world. But that doesn’t mean that it’s on the verge of forming a state, much less a global caliphate — nor that it can’t be defeated by anything but a fresh deployment of American troops and pilots.

The Middle East’s politics are getting very strange, but the strangeness isn’t likely to include a caliphate.

The potential coalition against ISIL — the entities with a very strong interest in seeing its fighters crushed — include Iran, Syria, Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (albeit ambivalently), Shiite Iraq, and even (once Maliki leaves office one way or the other) much of Sunni Iraq. If Baghdadi’s men cross into Jordan, the Israelis say they’ll enter the fight, too. The Middle East’s politics are getting very strange, but the strangeness isn’t likely to include a caliphate.

Kaplan is the author of “The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War” and “1959: The Year Everything Changed.”

100 gather in protest against Japanese PM Abe’s visit to Australia

Prime Minster Abe is on a three-day visit in Australia, the first visit by a Japanese prime minister since 2002.

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In an address to the House of Representatives he paid tribute to the ties between the two countries.

“Our countries both love peace. We value freedom and democracy,” he said.

The speech is only the third speech Mr Abe has delivered in English as prime minister.

Outside Parliament, a group of between 100 and 150 people gathered in a protest against Abe’s visit.

The protesters cited concerns over historical grievances relating to WWII and planned changes to the country’s constitution.

Japan’s government recently announced it was changing its post-war pacifist constitution to enable the country’s military to come to the aid of an ally under attack.

“Australia selectively forgot the crimes Japanese conducted to Australian war prisoners,” one protester said on social networking site Weibo.

Another said: “While older generation of Australians still hold some conflicting feeling against Japan – given they had attacked Darwin – the younger ones don’t know much.”

“Same complicating as Australian’s feeling to Chinese, on one side is red communism and on the other side is our mining boom…Mr Abbott, it is complicating to play seesaw!”

Most of the protesters have historic grievances with Japan, relating to WWII @SBSNews pic.twitter南宁桑拿网,/M7wWmbNH54

— Shalailah Medhora (@shalailah) July 8, 2014

Some Australian protesters also unhappy with proposed changes to Japan’s constitution @SBSNews pic.twitter南宁桑拿网,/s0m3Ygozr4

— Shalailah Medhora (@shalailah) July 8, 2014

A group of around 100-150 Chinese and Korean protesters gather outside Parli against Japanese PM’s visit @SBSNews pic.twitter南宁桑拿网,/mmAYQBMpFY

— Shalailah Medhora (@shalailah) July 8, 2014Shinzo Abe tells parliament of peace vow

Mr Abe has told Australian parliament Japan will never again follow the path of aggression and war.

“When we Japanese started out again after the Second World War, we thought long and hard over what had happened in the past and came to make a vow for peace,” he told MPs and senators.

“We Japanese have followed this path until the present day.

 

“We will never let the horrors of the past century’s history repeat themselves.”

Mr Abe said that vow was still fully alive today and would never change.

 

“I stand here in the Australian legislative chamber to state this vow to you, solemnly and proudly.”

Mr Abe paid tribute to the fathers and grandfathers who fought in places such as Kokoda and Sandakan.

“How many young Australians with bright futures to come lost

their lives?”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Mr Abe’s speech was a historic occasion for Australia.

 

He said Australia had a special relationship with Japan based on common values and shared interests.

Mr Abbott and Mr Abe will sign an Australia-Japan free trade agreement later on Tuesday.

– with AAP

Legal battle for Clippers underway

The legal battle over the $US2 billion ($A2.

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1 billion) sale of the Los Angeles Clippers finally got underway Monday after lawyers for owner Donald Sterling lost a bid to move the case to federal court.

A federal judge rejected Sterling’s motion.

In the afternoon, Sterling was called to the witness stand in Los Angeles County Superior Court but he wasn’t there, prompting yet another delay.

Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly, has struck a deal to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer after her husband’s racist remarks to a girlfriend were publicised and the NBA moved to oust him as team owner.

The non-jury trial will determine whether Shelly Sterling had authority under terms of a family trust to unilaterally negotiate the deal.

She had two doctors examine her 80-year-old husband and they declared him mentally incapacitated and unable to act as an administrator of the Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers.

The court must find that Sterling’s wife acted in accordance with the trust and that the deal still applies – even though the trust has since been revoked by Donald Sterling – for the sale to proceed.

In seeking a move to federal court last week, Sterling’s attorneys argued that their client was induced to undergo mental examination under false pretences and that his private, personal medical records were given to his wife’s “handpicked” doctors in violation of federal medical privacy laws.

His wife’s lawyers claim Donald Sterling’s legal manoeuvres were just a tactic to run out the clock on the Clippers sale.

NBA owners are scheduled to vote on the deal on July 15. It’s also the day that Ballmer’s offer is set to expire – and there is no deal without the judge’s approval of the sale.

If the sale isn’t completed by September 15, the league said it could seize the team and put it up for auction.