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Wanderers shift focus to A-League

Asian champions Western Sydney Wanderers are determined to turn around their winless A-League season as the fallout continues from their against-the-odds triumph in Riyadh.

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Coach Tony Popovic on Wednesday dismissed Al-Hilal’s call for an investigation into the Asian Champions League final won 1-0 on aggregate by the Wanderers, saying it was of no interest to his club.

The rich Saudi club called on the Asian Football Confederation to look into the refereeing which they claimed cost them six penalties over two legs, suggesting the integrity of the competition and the reputation of the Asian Football Confederation had been tarnished.

Popovic was unfazed, saying the Wanderers were rightful Asian champions.

“When you lose, some teams and some clubs take it differently,” Popovic told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.

“That’s been their approach and it’s of no interest to us.

“We’re not really concerned by their words at the moment. We’re the champions, we’ve earnt that. We played them over two matches, 180 minutes and we were the better team over the two games.”

Popovic was a lot more measured in his response than Wanderers goalkeeping hero Ante Covic, who suggested Al-Hilal look into the post-match melee prompted by alleged headbutting and spitting by their forward Nassir Al-Shamrani.

“If they want to investigate the penalties, maybe they should investigate their own players and their behaviour after the game,” fumed Covic on Fox Sports’ The Back Page.

“For me, that was more disgraceful than anything that happened on the field.

“They’re going to be bitter. They’ve been arrogant from the moment they came to Sydney. They were arrogant in this game (second leg). They believed they should win by default.

“They’re are going to get nothing out of it because for me their behaviour in those two legs and the way they treated us as a club – I’ve got no sympathy for them.”

Popovic was quick to get his travel-weary squad back to training business on Wednesday as they face a trip to Wellington for their A-League clash with the Phoenix on Friday night.

Wanderers captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley said the last-placed Wanderers were was not resting on their ACL laurels.

“We should feel like champions but that’s not getting in the way of winning games in the A-League,” he said.

“We’re not going to get carried away and think that’s gonna get us over the line.

“We’re going to work hard because that’s what got us an Asian Champions League medal.”

Popovic lauded the courage of striker Brendon Santalab who is headed for shoulder surgery on Friday, ruling him out for up to two months, after playing the ACL final match in Riyadh in great pain.

The 32-year-old had dislocated the shoulder in his team’s first leg 1-0 win over Al-Hilal at Parramatta Stadium and he will now miss the side’s Club World Cup campaign in Morocco in December.

“He did a fantastic job for us in the second leg, he’s in excruciating pain,” Popovic said.

“He played nearly 60 minutes for us and we’ll forever be grateful for that and his reward is an Asian Champions League medal.

“Unfortunately, now we’ve got to help him fix his shoulder.”

Noel Pearson has been met with resounding applause in an address listing the achievements of Gough Whitlam.

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Addressing those gathered at the state memorial service in Sydney for the former prime minister, the Cape York indigenous leader commended the Whitlam Government for achievements which changed the face of healthcare, divorce, Indigenous and foreign relations for Australia.   

Citing a Monty Python sketch and referring to the late politician as a Roman, Mr Pearson said the country was changed forever under his three-year leadership.

“The modern, cosmopolitan Australia finally emerged like a technicolour butterfly from its long, dormant chrysalis,” he said.

“… There is no need for nostalgia and yearning for what might have been. The achievements of this old man are present in the institutions we today take for granted.”

His speech was heralded on social media as a speech for the ages.

Noel Pearson’s Whitlam eulogy must surely rank alongside Keating’s Redfern address as one of the best ever Australian speeches.

— john lord (@saint13333) November 5, 2014

I suspect Noel Pearson’s speech might be spoken about for years to come.#9Newscomau

— Mark Burrows (@MarkWBurrows) November 5, 2014

Am I the only person hearing something of the slow, resonating cadences of Dr King as Noel Pearson speaks?

— Dominic Knight (@domknight) November 5, 2014

Doubt I will ever hear a speech as good as Noel Pearson’s today. Sentiment, insight extraordinary, not to mention delivery. #WhitlamMemorial

— Phillipa McGuinness (@pipmcg) November 5, 2014

If Cate Blanchett’s speech today was generousness and gracious, Noel Pearson’s was positively, fist-pumping gospel #WhitlamMemorial #auspol

— comrade jenny (@jennyeather) November 5, 2014

I am absolutely blown away by Noel Pearson. Such power of words. A fitting tribute to Whitlam one of Australia’s finest orators.

— Paul Bongiorno (@PaulBongiorno) November 5, 2014

 

By Daniel Bennett, University of Melbourne

At one level, this seems like an easy question: we think our options through, pick the one we like best and act on it.

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If we dig a little deeper, though, the question becomes more difficult to answer. How do we settle on what our options are? What makes us prefer one option to another?

These decisions may be partially unconscious, according to mounting evidence. This is because, from moment to moment, our brains are set to run on autopilot. Most of the information that our senses pick up is processed automatically; just a fraction of that information ever makes it into our conscious awareness.

This makes our brains efficient, since it means we don鈥檛 have to pay conscious attention to everything at once. But it has the side effect that we can make decisions based on information of which we are not fully aware.

Fully automatic advertising

Advertising provides a good example of this effect. Even if you are not paying attention to the fast-food billboard beside you at the bus stop, your brain may still be processing it outside your conscious awareness.

 

Advertisements might seem like part of the background but our subconscious is always taking notice. The Ximending District in Taipei, Taiwan/Shutterstock

Later on, when you decide to buy take-away food instead of cooking dinner, you might have no idea that the billboard you saw half-an-hour ago prompted your decision.

In a recent study at the University of Melbourne, we investigated this phenomenon. Specifically, we looked at what kind of information our brains automatically extract from the world around us.

To do this, we showed participants a series of pictures in the background of their vision while they performed an unrelated task in the foreground. The pictures were pleasant images of everyday things, such as food and social scenes, or status symbols like money and cars. Meanwhile, we recorded the electrical activity of participants鈥?brains using a technology called electro-encephalography (EEG).

After participants finished the task we showed the pictures again. This time we asked several questions about them. Specifically, we asked participants to think about the images and tell us: (a) how exciting they thought the images were; and (b) whether the images made them think more of the present or of the future.

We then applied a statistical 鈥渄ecoding鈥?technique to the EEG brain activity recorded when people first saw the images, and found that we could predict judgements of both excitement and time reference from brain activity.

Importantly, participants didn鈥檛 know that they would have to make these judgements when they first saw the pictures. This implies that the information about excitement and time reference must have been automatically extracted by the brain.

A little faster than thought

What this tells us is that participants鈥?brains were performing a fast semantic analysis of the images, even though the images weren鈥檛 relevant to the task at hand. What鈥檚 more, participants鈥?brains were extracting highly abstract information, like whether an image related more to the present or to the future.

 

Making judgements about the past and future is high-level thinking, but we can do it unconsciously. Sara/Flickr, CC BY-NC

Taken in context, our results suggest that common-sense ideas about how we make decisions underestimate the importance of processing outside conscious awareness.

Curate your environment

Our laboratory has previously shown that people become more impulsive in simple financial decisions when they are first shown a rewarding 鈥減rime鈥? such as the Apple logo.

This is true even when the prime appears for only a very short time and is not recognisable. That goes to show the surprising power of processing outside conscious awareness.

Our brain鈥檚 automatic processing of the world around us can tilt the playing field, even when we feel we are in full control of our actions. By showing that our brains automatically make abstract judgements about images, our research suggests a possible mechanism by which this decision priming could work.

Even very complex decisions might be more influenced by this mechanism than we realise. We have been speaking so far of 鈥渟imple鈥?decisions, but in principle even decisions with important ramifications, like buying a house or changing jobs, could be affected.

This perspective might seem disconcerting, since it seems to rob us of our sense of control over our decisions. However, this isn鈥檛 entirely true. We may not control what kind of information our brain processes from our environment, but we can control what kinds of environments we put ourselves in.

This explains, for instance, why it鈥檚 a bad idea for somebody trying to quit smoking to surround themselves with people who smoke, and why someone with a gambling problem would be better off not watching TV poker.

Likewise, the more impulsive and risk-seeking you are, the more important it may be to surround yourself with people and environments that prompt you to think of the future. Our brains may be automatic processing engines, but we can control what kind of fuel those engines receive.

Daniel Bennett does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

A member of the first team to set foot on the moon, astronaut Buzz Aldrin is a staunch advocate of space exploration who once publicly punched a man who claimed the lunar landings were a hoax.

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“Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation,” he said as he became the second person — just minutes after Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong — to set foot on another world on July 20, 1969.

Broadcasting from the moon, Aldrin urged listeners worldwide “to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

Strong religious beliefs

A devout Christian, he took communion while the spacecraft was on the moon, using a travel kit provided by his Presbyterian pastor, although this was not revealed until years later.

A fighter pilot who flew combat missions during the Korean War, an astronaut who set a space walking record, and the founder of a private rocket design company, Aldrin also battled alcoholism and depression after his days in space were over.

In a well publicized incident in 2002, he punched film maker Bart Sibrel, who claims the six Apollo lunar missions were elaborate hoaxes. Sibrel had approached Aldrin outside a hotel in Beverly Hills, California, calling him “a coward, a liar and a thief” and challenging him to swear on the Bible he had walked on the moon.

Aldrin told AFP that his voyage to the moon had profoundly changed his life, and questioned his beliefs about God and creation.

‘Universality in spirituality’

The unique experience had redefined his spirituality into one of a “much broader universality.”

He came to believe in the idea of “an Einstein, cosmic, religious, spiritual, higher power intelligence having somehow created the entire universe, and we are but a small part of that, with our concepts of deity maybe not consistent with the overall creation.”

After quitting the NASA program, Aldrin set up Starcraft Boosters, Inc. a rocket design company, and ShareSpace, a foundation that aims to promote affordable space tourism.

He wrote an autobiography entitled “Return to Earth,” as well as a history of the Apollo program titled “Men from Earth,” and, together with science fiction author John Barnes, “The Return” and “Encounter with Tiber.”

And he has just brought out a new book “Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey from the Moon.”

Collaborated with Snoop Dogg

Now 79, the former astronaut has also written children’s books on space, he’s an avid user of Twitter and he recently recorded a song with hip hop artist Snoop Dogg called “Rocket Experience,” seeking to inspire a new generation with the desire to conquer space.

Born in Montclair, New Jersey on January 20, 1930, Aldrin was educated at the prestigious West Point military academy in New York state.

He joined the US Air Force, and flew 66 combat missions in the Korean War, shooting down two enemy fighter jets.

Developing NASA techniques

He earned a doctorate in Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and devised manned space rendezvous techniques that were later adopted by NASA.

In 1963, he was picked to join the select corps of early US astronauts, and six years later he set a record — now broken — for the longest space walk by spending five and a half hours outside the spacecraft during the Gemini 12 orbital mission.

He was the back-up command module pilot on Apollo 8, man’s first flight around the moon, and on July 20, 1969 he made the historic moon walk with Armstrong.

Moon crater named after him

He logged a total of 4,500 hours flying time, 290 of them in space.

After retiring from NASA, the Air Force and from his position as commander of the test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base, Aldrin remained a strong advocate of space exploration.

A crater on the moon, near the Apollo 11 landing site is named in his honor.

Forty years after Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, there are still those who insist that his giant leap for mankind happened on a film set in Arizona, not on the lunar surface.

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The deniers insist that NASA went to extraordinary lengths and great expense to stage a moon landing in a film studio because it wanted to distract a public weary of the Vietnam war, or felt it had to beat the Soviet Union in the space race but feared it didn’t have the technology.

Or maybe the US space agency headed to the studio because it was cheaper and less risky than flying to the moon, the deniers have also said.

Moon landing ‘impossible’

They put forward thoeries — like the astronauts would have been fried by radiation when they passed through the Van Allen belts on their way to the moon — to back up their claims that a moon shot in 1969 would have been impossible.

Most of the deniers were tipped into the realm of lunar landing disbelief after seeing photos of Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon — or on a set somewhere, as they would insist –, astronomer Phil Plait said on the SETI Institute’s “Are We Alone” radio program this week.

The first thing they tend to notice is the starless sky, Plait said on the radio show which is hosted by Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at SETI, a nonprofit based in California that aims to explain the origin and nature of life in the universe.

Burning question on stars

“There’s no atmosphere on the moon, so you would expect the stars to be brighter,” Plait said.

But even photos of the night sky on earth would show no stars unless they were shot with an exposure of several seconds — which they couldn’t be for the moon landing because the pictures of Armstrong and Aldrin were taken when the sun was up, he said.

At the shutterspeeds the astronauts would have used, “you just don’t see stars, whether you’re on earth or on the moon,” Plait said.

The deniers also point out that the American flag shown in video footage of the lunar landing flutters — even though there’s no air on the moon — and have grips with shadows on the lunar surface.

The negationists fell dormant for several years but resurfaced in 2001 when Fox TV aired a program called “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?”

Bootprint evidence

The show portrayed NASA as little more than “a blundering movie producer,” wrote Dr Tony Phillips on the [email protected] website.

Lunar landing negationists will probably fade into the background again when the United States returns to the moon, but will they die out entirely? Probably not, said Shostak.

“We’ll go back to the moon and find all this hardware and take pictures of it and say, ‘Look! Their bootprints!’

“And people who like to think that the US government has nothing better to do than fake a moon landing will say, ‘Well, you faked that, too.'”

Can you really play cricket on top of ‘the dish’ (the radio telescope in Parkes Australia)? Who exactly saw the images of the moon landing first? SBS investigates.

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Movie control room not authentic. False

The control room set and operation of the dish in the movie (“The Dish”) was extremely realistic of 1969 – right down to the ash trays.

Side to side scans. True

It’s quite normal for the dish to scan side to side to find a source and discover the strongest possible signal.

Many have described the dish as being as big as a football field, this isn’t true at all.

50 overs on the dish. True

You probably wouldn’t be able to play cricket on the dish, however actors in the movie were allowed up there, but were told exactly where to stand and what they could do. (see below)

You can’t visit the telescope. False

Every year almost 80,000 people turn off the Newel Highway and visit the telescope.

Government footed the bill 100% for the dish. False

Taffy Bowen was the driving force behind the Parkes telescope. Politicians were reluctant to foot the bill entirely in the 1950s so Bowen persuaded two philanthropic organisations – The Carnegie Corporation and the Rockerfeller Foundation – to fund half the cost. Then Prime Minister Robert Menzies funded the balance.

Americans saw the moon landing first. False

Australian audiences witnessed the moon walk and Neil Armstrong’s first historic step 300 milliseconds before the rest of the world.

Australians saw the first pictures. True

Using a less sensitive ‘off axis’ detector, the engineers in Parkes had seen the moon landing six minutes earlier than those in Houston, but the pictures were of lower quality and weren’t broadcast.

NASA ‘outsourced’ parts of project. True

NASA approached Parkes in 1968 to be a part of the Apollo 11 mission. The telescope was set to act as a backup for NASA’s Goldstone dish.

Aussie involvement meant less work for Astronauts. True

Australia’s involvement meant less work for the astronauts. Without the dish, they would have spent extra time setting up large antennas to get extra signal strength.

Indigenous communities are demanding the federal government stand by its election promise to scrap legislation which lays the groundwork for a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory.

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Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has said the government will not give up the search for a suitable site somewhere in Australia, after four sites were shortlisted by the previous government.

But “Mitch”, a representative for two indigenous communities near one of the shortlisted sites, Harts Range, says four years of uncertainty is “devastating” the community.

“One of my grandfathers said it’s like waking up every morning and hitting your head into a piece of steel, you just can’t get away from it,” she said.

“But every morning you’ve got to wake up and that’s still on their shoulders that this hasn’t been resolved.”

Mr Ferguson has refused to say when his government will scrap the legislation, or when cabinet will receive recommendations from a scientific report on which site is most suitable.

There have been concerns the government will not repeal the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act (CRWMA), after it rejected a motion to scuttle the law earlier this year.

The Howard government passed the Act in 2006, giving the federal government the power to impose a nuclear waste dump on the Northern Territory.

The coalition short-listed Harts Range, Fishers Ridge and Mount Everard as possible sites for a dump and Muckaty Station, about 120km north of Tennant Creek, was later controversially nominated as a possible site by the Northern Land Council.

Labor promised to repeal the Act during the last federal election campaign.

However the communities are worried that the issue has still not been resolved, Mitch said.

“What we’ve had since the Rudd election is no word.” She said the past two responsible ministers had refused to visit the area, which was prone to flooding and severe tropical weather.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson was refusing to consult with the community before choosing a site, Mitch said.

A representative for the Larrakia Nation at Darwin, Donna Jackson, said the CRWMA contravened articles in the United Nations Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples (UN-DRIP) in relation to storing hazardous materials.

“It is hypocritical of the ALP government to support the UN-DRIP and continue with Howard’s waste dump plan,” she said.

A policeman has been killed near the Papuan mining operations of US mining company Freeport, lifting the death toll from weekend ambushes to three.

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There’s speculation as to whether Papuan separatist rebels or the Indonesian military police are behind the deadly attacks near the mine over the weekend.

Indonesian police have confirmed that a firearm used to kill an Australian mining expert is the same as that used by the Indonesian military.

Indonesian authorities have blamed the violence on the Free Papua Movement, known as the OPM– which has sought independence from the central government since the 1960s.

But in a statement to the Jakarta Globe newspaper, the OPM denies it was behind the attack.

“The OPM doesn’t target civilians. Besides, we don’t have guns and ammunition. It says doesn’t target civilians, and doesn’t have guns or ammunition. At least one Indonesia expert agrees with this version of events”.

“The question is the motivation and I think the OPM doesn’t have the motivation to be shooting at foreigners at Freeport at the moment”, Damian Kingsbury, Senior Lecturer at Deakin University said.

“There’s a lot at stake for the Indonesian military.. Its paid between four and eight million dollars a year by Freeport for security,” Mr Kingsbury said.

“Occasionally Freeport threatens to remove some of that funding and you get incidents,” Chris Ballard from the Australian National University said.

Australian mining expert, Drew Grant, was shot dead on Saturday while travelling in a car just outside the company’s massive Grasberg copper and gold mine.

And yesterday, gunmen opened fire on two Freeport vehicles– killing a security guard and wounding five other staff.

The Papuan Police Chief has conceded that bullets found at the scene were from military- style weapons issued to the Indonesian Military Police.

“It looks very much like this has been set up by the Indonesian military, the TNI, to make it look like an OPM attack, in order to discredit the OPM and to strengthen their own position,” Mr Kingsbury said.

Today, a policeman was found dead near the mine. The circumstances remain unclear.

The escalation of tension in Papua is an unwelcome development for the newly re- elected Indonesian President.

Damien Kingsbury believes the military will now use the surge of violence to pressure the government not to reduce its numbers in the region.

Australian woman Angelita Pires told East Timorese rebel leader Alfredo Reinado to go to Dili to “kill two dogs” the day before the 2008 assassination attempts on the country’s top two political leaders, a court has been told.

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Pires, a dual citizen of Australian and East Timor, is facing trial with 27 others allegedly involved in the February 11, 2008 attacks on President Jose Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

Pires, 43, was then the lover of Reinado, who was shot dead in an ambush that left Ramos Horta critically wounded.

Tight security surrounded the Dili District Court for the beginning of the trial, as prosecutors detailed the allegations against Pires and her co-accused. On February 10, Pires told Reinado:

“You are going there (to Dili) to kill two dogs,” prosecutors said. In the days leading up to the attack Pires also told an unidentified person that “something” was going to happen in Dili, they alleged.

The month before the attacks, Pires travelled to Australia to raise money for Reinado’s group, the court heard.

“Angelita went to Australia to try to find money to support Reinado,” a prosecution document, read out by court staff, said. “It’s not true she was there to take part in a scholarship.”

Pires provided Reinado’s group with food, cigarettes and medicine, the court heard.

Prosecutors also alleged that during 2007 Pires repeatedly convinced Reinado not to attend peace talks with Ramos Horta and top military leaders.

Dressed in traditional Timorese clothes with no shoes, Pires, who maintains her innocence, said she felt “strong”.

“I am still fighting for justice,” she said as she walked inside. “I still fight for Alfredo Reinado, I cannot blame him.”

The defendants and their legal teams packed into the small courtroom while family of the accused and journalists crammed into another room to watch via video link.

The court dismissed a move by prosecutors to prevent Pires’s Australian legal team taking part in the trial. The trial, before a panel of three judges, continues on Tuesday.

Teams of unarmed robots able to enter urban war zones will be developed in a joint Australian-US defence departments competition.

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Hoping to trigger a new frontier of robots that can communicate and work autonomously as a team, the two countries’ defence departments have joined to offer private operators millions in prize money.

Australian Minister for Defence Personnel, Material and Science Greg Combet launched the competition at Melbourne’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) today.

He said it was hoped the competition would attract private business entrants from around the world.

Five short-listed competitors will receive research grants of $US100,000 while the top three finalists will receive an extra $US750,000, $US250,000 or $US100,000.

Mr Combet said if successfully developed, autonomously operating robot teams could be used in urban war zones, law enforcement situations and emergency scenes like this year’s deadly Australian bushfires.

“Obviously, we’re engaged in operations in Afghanistan at the moment, very dangerous, and we’ve been in Iraq,” Mr Combet told AAP at the launch.

“So, in terms of war-like theatres of operations, those are circumstances where, if we’re able to develop this capacity, you can see they’d be very useful and, importantly, provide protection for Australian soldiers.”

DSTO land operations division chief Steve Quinn said the robots would not be armed.

“We’re not interested in any form of weaponisation,” Mr Quinn said. “What we would expect is that the robots would identify a target and watch a target for a set period of time and … that would be counted as target-neutralised.”

The Australian Defence Department is putting more than $500,000 into the competition and the US Defence Department $US2.5 million, Mr Quinn said.

Five shortlisted robot teams will demonstrate their skills at a yet-to-be announced site in South Australia in November, with winning teams to be announced at Brisbane’s Land War Conference in Brisbane in November 2010.

Pakistan has began bussing home dozens of families, among nearly two million people displaced by fighting between the military and Taliban fighters in the northwest.

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The government laid on buses and trucks at different camps set up by the local authorities and the UN refugee agency in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani last week announced plans to start sending back the displaced from today, saying that the military had “eliminated” the extremists during a two-month assault in and around the district of Swat.

“There are 120 families returning to their hometowns today from Jalozai camp,” a spokesman for the special support group, set up by the government to handle the displacement crisis, said.

Located in the northwestern town of Nowshera, the camp had hosted nearly 4,000 families, according to the website of the Emergency Response Unit.

“It’s a very big day for me because I’m returning home today with my family members,” 29-year-old Shakir Zada said before boarding a bus at Jalozai destined to take him back to the southern Swat town of Barikot.

Pakistan launched an offensive against the Taliban in the northwest districts of Buner, Lower Dir and Swat after armed Islamist militants advanced to within 100 kilometres of Islamabad in defiance of a peace deal. The offensive sparked a huge evacuation.

Most of the 1.9 million displaced, including about 500,000 who fled an earlier offensive last year, have crowded into relatives’ homes, while others are crammed into hot and dusty refugee camps.

The consumer watchdog is looking into claims that Coles and Woolworths are deliberately trying to put competitors out of business by offering discounts of up to 40 cents a litre on petrol with shopping purchases.

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The promotion is offering motorists who spend more than $300 in one supermarket visit during the next three days a 40 cents a litre petrol discount.

Shoppers who spend $200 or more receive a 25 cents a litre discount, while those who spend $100 or more get a 10 cents a litre discount.

The discount offer needs to be taken up in the next four weeks.

ACCC Petrol Commissioner Joe Dimasi told AAP the competition watchdog was not suggesting the promotion was not compliant with the Trade Practices Act, but would look at it closely.

“I’m not suggesting for a moment we think there is anything wrong with it, discounts that enable consumers to get lower petrol prices are generally a good thing,” he said.

“But having said that, there are provisions in the act to make sure there is nothing wrong with the promotion, and we will have a look at it.

Mr Dimasi said the ACCC would scrutinise the promotion to ensure it was not being used “in a predatory way to drive competitors out of business”.

“If we’ve got two supermarket chains competing to get people into their stores, providing benefits to consumers on a regular basis, that’s well and good,” he said.

“So long as it isn’t aimed at a particular competitor and done with the aim of driving someone out of business by pricing below cost in a sustained way over a long period of time.”

“If we see (the promotion happening) every month, we would have to see what it is doing and what it is trying to do.”

Consumer group Choice labelled the promotion a “three-day gimmick with hurdles”.

“The hurdles are you have to spend $300 and do it within three days to get the discount,” spokesman Christopher Zinn said.

“We want to see competition in terms of price for groceries, not gimmicks that last for three days.”

Mr Zinn said he was concerned the supermarket giants would raise grocery prices to fund the promotion.

“How else does this cost subsidy take place?” he said.

It was a difficult thing to prove, Mr Zinn said, with the federal government in June dumping Grocery Choice – a website service tracking supermarket prices.

“This is one of the issues about Grocery Choice. You would have had a record of what the prices were,” he said.

“One could follow that much more closely.”

Mr Dimasi said if Coles and Woolworths intended on raising grocery prices to fund the petrol promotion, it would not be a breech of the Trade Practices Act.

“They are both businesses that sell both groceries and petrol,” he said.

“This is clearly something that will cost them money in the petrol sector.

“Does that push up the price of groceries?

“Well, if it does, there is nothing illegal about it.”

While on the surface the latest promotions appear to be an exciting offer, Mr Zinn said alternative options were also attractive.

“You could also go to Aldi, where you might get for $70 what you would at Coles for $100, so you would save $30 there,” he said.

“That is something you can do 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“That’s what these schemes are all about – you might miss out on better offers.”

, Friday, July 10, 2

Health authorities are also working to determine whether there’s any link between the virus and two other recent deaths at a Sydney hospital.

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The woman, who had underlying medical conditions, died at Lismore Base Hospital on Saturday with subsequent tests confirming she had H1N1 influenza, NSW Health said.

Since the woman’s death, two more people with suspected swine flu have died in NSW.

“Two people have died following influenza-like illness in Royal North Shore Hospital, however H1N1 has not been identified in the patients at this stage and tests are still pending,” NSW Health said in a statement on Monday.

“These are two unrelated men, aged in their 30s and 40s, who were being treated for other conditions in intensive care.

“These two patients have been referred to the coroner.”

The Lismore death comes after the death of a 27-year-old man on July 4.

He was reported to have been suffering multiple “underlying medical conditions” along with swine flu and died at John Hunter Hospital at Newcastle.

One day earlier a 57-year old was diagnosed with the virus and died the same day at Westmead Hospital in Sydney’s west.

A 45-year-old man was the first person to die after testing positive to the swine flu.

Since the epidemic began in NSW, some 346 people have been admitted to hospital, with 50 of these requiring admissions to intensive care units, NSW Health said.

In Australia, 21 people with confirmed swine flu have died, with 2,029 people testing positive to the virus in NSW.

People with underlying medical conditions who develop severe flu-like symptoms are encouraged to seek medical attention.