Raiders ruin Bulldogs’ return to Belmore with 22-8 win

Canberra has proven it is a genuine NRL premiership contender this year in a spirited 22-8 defeat of Canterbury at Belmore Sportsground on Monday night.

SCOREBOARD: CBY v CAN

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In the return of halves Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer from injury, the Raiders dominated their highly fancied opponents to spring a round-five upset at the iconic suburban venue before a boisterous crowd of 13,463.

Captain Jarrod Croker led the way for the visitors with 18 points, including two tries, with Austin, Sezer and Josh Hodgson a capable support cast.

The win was the Raiders’ second in 13 matches at the venue.

The Raiders dominated the big Dogs pack up front and their slick backline took advantage as the Green Machine moved to third on the NRL ladder.

Croker opened the scoring for Canberra in the seventh minute after Sezer put Josh Papalii through the Dogs line and the skipper backed up to stroll over untouched.

The visitors went further ahead in the 12th minute when Jack Wighton pounced on a deft Josh Hodgson kick.

A Sezer penalty kick in the 33rd minute put Canberra further ahead 14-0.

Canterbury finally found the tryline in the 35th minute when Josh Reynolds forced his way over for a half-time score of 14-4.

In a drama-charged second half, the Raiders went further ahead in the 54th minute through a penalty goal after Josh Jackson was sin-binned for a professional foul for slowing down the Raiders play-the-ball in a tryscoring situation.

With the Dogs down to 12 men, Croker crossed for his second try in the 56th minute as the visitors went ahead 22-4.

Hooker Michael Lichaa returned from a knee injury for the Dogs, but Chase Stanley could be set for an extended stint on the sidelines after suffering a leg injury.

Raiders interchange forward Iosia Soliola suffered a suspected fractured forearm in the first half.

There were reports of a bottle being thrown at the Raiders bench from the crowd after Croker’s second try.

Tony Williams could be in trouble with the match review committee over a possible first-half trip on Blake Austin.

Williams, in his 150th NRL game, was put on report with Sam Kasiano for making dangerous contact in a tackle on Wighton.

A Will Hopoate try in the 68th minute was too little too late for the Dogs.

AAP

6 Things You Need to Know About the Bombshell ‘Panama Papers’ Leak

An anonymous whistleblower unloads massive trove of files exposing how world leaders and other elites hide money and evade taxes.

Photo Credit: International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other media partners dropped the explosive “Panama Papers” leak on Sunday. 

The trove is described by ICIJ, a global network of investigative journalists, as “11.5 million leaked files to expose the offshore holdings of world political leaders, links to global scandals and details of the hidden financial dealings of fraudsters, drug traffickers, billionaires, celebrities, sports stars and more.”

Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based law firm that was exposed, has allegedly helped wealthy and powerful people hide and launder money, evading billions in taxes. The firm has “offices in more than 35 locations around the globe, and is one of the world’s top creators of shell companies, corporate structures that can be used to hide ownership of assets,” according to ICIJ. The papers together reveal information about more than 214,000 offshore companies connected to individuals in more than 200 countries and territories.

Here are six things you should know about the massive revelation:

1. This could be the biggest leak ever. The massive scale of the Panama Papers revelations is best captured in the following image, which was produced by Süddeutsche Zeitung.

2. This is the work of a courageous whistleblower. The following Twitter shout-out from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to the “John Doe” behind the Panama Papers says it all.

3. Whether or not the actions exposed in the Panama Papers were legal is not the most important question.

As journalists continue to pore over the trove of documents, many questions are centering on whether governments and corporations can be tied to illegal behavior. However, as Vox’s Matthew Yglesias argued on Sunday, the documents also offer “the most granular look ever at a banal reality that’s long been hiding in plain sight. Even as the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations have engaged in increasingly complex and intensive efforts at international cooperation to smooth the wheels of global commerce, they have willfully chosen to allow the wealthiest members of Western society to shield their financial assets from taxation (and in many cases divorce or bankruptcy settlement) by taking advantage of shell companies and tax havens.”

Pivoting off of Yglesias’ observations, journalist Glenn Greenwald persuasively argued, “Proving that certain behavior is ‘legal’ does not prove that it is ethical or just. That’s because corrupted political systems, by definition, often protect and legalize exactly the behavior that is most unjust. Vital journalism does not only expose law-breaking. It also highlights how corrupted political and legal systems can be co-opted by the most powerful in order to legally sanction atrocious and destructive behavior that serves their interests, typically with little or no public awareness that it’s been done.”

4. A LOT of famous and powerful people are linked to the revelations. Here are just some of the world leaders whose family members and close associates are alleged to have been implicated—or have been directly tied themselves: British Prime Minister David Cameron, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, South African President Jacob Zuma, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

5. There is a conspicuous lack of U.S. players named in the initial reporting. Adam Johnson, a contributing writer for AlterNet and FAIR, pointed out this absence on social media:

However, the editor of Süddeutsche Zeitung says there is more to come.

  6. Don’t forget about the “free trade” deal between the U.S. and Panama.

The “U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement” went into effect in 2012 and was styled after the infamous NAFTA agreement. The watchdog organization Public Citizen ominously warned years ago: “Despite Panama’s status as one of the world’s top venues for tax evasion and money laundering, the FTA does not directly or indirectly remedy Panama’s problems with tax evasion and money laundering. There are no special requirements that take into consideration, much less try to counter, Panama’s banking secrecy rules, lax financial service regulations or designation as a venue for money laundering and tax evasion. In fact, if the Panama FTA were adopted, it would make these matters of bipartisan concern worse.” 

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

West Indies sweep T20 World Cups

Australia’s women’s cricket team battled valiantly before narrowly losing to the West Indies in the women’s T20 World Cup cricket final in India. Lachlan Barker reports.

THE WOMEN’S FINAL of cricket’s twenty over version of the World Cup was held on the weekend between Australia’s Southern Stars and a West Indies team led by the formidably explosive bat Stafanie Taylor.

However, before I get to the result, I would just like to prepare the ground with a story from my home town, Bathurst in NSW, during my youth.

There were two boys’ private schools in my town, St Stanislaus, known colloquially as Stannies, and Scots, where my brother endured servitude.

The sporting rivalries between these two schools was intense and never more so than during the rugby and cricket fixtures.

At one point, the school system of which these two schools were a part held some sort of sports tournament and various schools from all over the state competed.

Scots won the tournament, with Stannies breathing down their neck in second place.

However, for some reason, the local newspaper, the Western Advocate – or Aggravate as it was popularly known – ran this headline:

‘Stannies come second in tournament’.

Which made my brother opine that whoever wrote that headline was a Stannies old boy.

So, hopefully, I have now provided you with a wry smile and so I can write this: ‘Southern Stars come second in T20 World Cup’.

Yes, the tournament was deservedly won by the West Indies, with masterful performances all along the way.

The final itself was a good match, notwithstanding the fact that Australia lost, with the final outcome being decided in the 20th over, which showed the tightness of the contest.

Australia batted first and got away to a good start, with openers Alyssa Healy and Elyse Villani off to a solid and quick-scoring start.

Villani posted a strike rate of 140 before going in the twelfth over for 52, her score including nine boundaries.

She was supported by captain Meg Lanning, also with 52, but from 49 deliveries, including eight boundaries. The other major contribution came from Ellyse Perry, who rattled up 28.

This took Australia’s innings through to the close at 148.

Then it was the West Indies turn and, sadly, for Australia the Windies began to lay the platform for victory from the off.

Openers Hayley Matthews and captain Stafanie Taylor took off on a slow burn but then built to a formidable position.

Matthews slammed 66 from 45 deliveries for a strike rate of 146 including six boundaries and three sixes. She departed in the 16th over and Taylor, who up to this point had been content to play the support role, then began to accelerate her scoring. Taylor eventually notched 59 from 57 including six fours.

However, despite this brilliant opening partnership, the West Indies were still behind on the run rate.

At the end of the 17th over the West Indies were behind on the count needing 20 runs off the last three overs, slightly greater than a run a ball.

Which when it goes down to the wire does put the batting side under pressure.

So I dared let a tiny flicker of hope burn inside me as I counted down the overs, then the individual deliveries.

But it was not to be. Deandra Dottin, who came to the wicket at the fall of the Matthews’s wicket, finally extinguished all hope for Australia.

Dottin hit two fours from the first two balls of the eighteenth over and radically altered the run rate required back in the West Indies favour.

Then, despite Taylor’s wicket in the second last over, the West Indies were able to count it down to victory, with three balls to spare.

Hayley Matthews was player of the match.

In retrospect, it was always going to be tough for the Southern Stars as the West Indies are clearly a formidable outfit.

In the last column I – as usual – got my sports predictions way wrong.

Following the defeat of the Stars by New Zealand in their group match, I opined that the Kiwis were the team to beat in this tournament. Well, the West Indies took me at my word and beat the very powerful Kiwi team in the semi-final, so they – by my logic and, as events did indeed show – were clearly the team to beat.

However, to use the oft-repeated quote from that most annoying of commentators, Bill Lawry: “cricket was the winner”.

Or, more precisely, women’s cricket was the winner.

The women’s matches received good support from the cricket mad Indian locals and, with the top nations powerful and well performed, and with less fancied nations performing well on the world stage, it became a great advertisement for the women’s game.

The two minnows here, by the way, were Ireland in Australia’s group and Bangladesh in Group B.

Neither of these teams won a match, but neither was disgraced either and all experience in a tournament like this brings them one match closer to their first victory.

As for the Australian men, they departed the tournament during the group phase following defeat by India.

Australia notched a solid 160 with 43 from Aaron Finch and 26 from Usman Khawaja; however they were then put to the sword by India’s Virat Kohli.

Kohli played a real purists’ innings that did cricket fogeys like myself (some) good to see. He scored 82 from 51 balls with nine boundaries and two sixes.

However, near half of his runs came along the ground into gaps in the field, the way it is usually done on the test cricket arena. This showed that you can be a success in 20-over cricket without having to hit the ball repeatedly into the twelfth row of the grandstand.

For the record, the West Indies notched a double by winning the men’s event as well.

They beat England in the final by four wickets on the back of an 85 from Marlon Samuels. With the ball, the West Indies were best served by Dwayne Bravo and Carlos Brathwaite, with three wickets each, while Samuel Badree and Andre Russell put a lot of pressure on the England batting by bowling with economy rates of four and five respectively.

So there you have it for the period, a great tournament all round with biggest well dones to both of the West Indies teams.

That’s it for cricket for the summer; we now look forward to biff and oof of the footy season – women’s and men’s – around the country.

Lachlan Barker blogs at cyclonecharlie88.blogspot.com.au. You can follow him on Twitter at @cyclonecharlie8.

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Trump’s prediction of ‘massive recession’ puzzles economists

Donald Trump’s prediction that the U.S. economy was on the verge of a “very massive recession” hit a wall of skepticism on Sunday from economists who questioned the Republican presidential front-runner’s calculations.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Washington Post published on Saturday, the billionaire businessman said a combination of high unemployment and an overvalued stock market had set the stage for another economic slump. He put real unemployment above 20 percent.

“We’re not heading for a recession, massive or minor, and the unemployment rate is not 20 percent,” said Harm Bandholz, chief U.S. economist at UniCredit Research in New York.

The official unemployment rate has declined to 5 percent from a peak of 10 percent in October 2009, according to government statistics. But a different, broader measure of unemployment that includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment is at 9.8 percent.

Coming off a difficult week on the campaign trail, in which he acknowledged he made a series of missteps, Trump’s comments to the Washington Post might be some of his most bearish on the economy and financial markets.

“I think we’re sitting on an economic bubble. A financial bubble,” he said.

While calling it a bubble might be a stretch, the fall in corporate profits and the recent rally in stock prices has pushed up the market’s valuation, and stocks on balance are about 15 percent pricier at the moment than their long-term average valuation.

But a cataclysmic economic downturn originating in the United States appears to be a remote possibility.

“There is a very low probability of a massive recession, less than 10 percent,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo. “If it happens, it would be because of what is happening overseas, especially in China and Europe.”

While some economists agreed that the stock market may be overvalued, few saw that as foretelling a recession.

“Nobody can predict what the stock market is going to do,” Rajeen Dhawan, director of Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University, said. “I cannot predict a stock market crash, so I cannot predict a recession. I don’t see any of the reasons for a recession going forward unless there is a huge problem with the market or there is some catastrophic world event which is beyond the scope of economics.”

The Democratic National Committee criticized Trump for making his remarks, saying they “undermine our economy.”

Trump’s success with voters, despite sometimes saying things only to contradict them later, has also alarmed many leading figures within his own party. Some of them are openly plotting to try to prevent him from becoming the nominee at the party’s national convention in July.

Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, said on Sunday that voters were “afraid” of their economic situation when asked about Trump’s remarks on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ show.

“When people are afraid and when they’re angry, sometimes people say things that they regret,” he said, apparently referring to Trump’s remarks. “The truth is that people are concerned about the future, and every candidate is going to communicate their message differently.”

He also played down speculation that party leaders will seek to dislodge Trump by helping someone who is not yet even a declared candidate prevail at the convention, which becomes governed by complicated voting rules if no candidate arrives with a clear majority of votes.

“I think that our candidate is someone who’s running,” Priebus said, referring to Trump, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich. The candidates will next face voters on Tuesday in Wisconsin, where recent polls tend to show Cruz holding a small lead over Trump.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Mary Milliken and Jonathan Oatis)

5 Right-Wing Lunacies This Week: Things Get Even Weirder on Team Trump

Palin gives gibberish speech; Pierson shouts about abortion; Stone out-creeps everyone.

Photo Credit: via Twitter

Sadly, as many a comedian noted on Friday, Donald Trump did not come out and announce that his whole campaign has been a giant April Fools’ joke gone badly and dangerously astray. Trump did attempt to declare his call for a ban on abortion, and his statement that women should be punished for having illegal abortions, a kind of April Fools’ prank. Just kidding, he seemed to say. I was misquoted. I mispoke. The media has it in for me. It’s very unfair.

It may be April, and Donald Trump may be a fool, but this campaign is no joke, as it is becoming frighteningly more clear with each passing day. Still, here are some knee-slapping moments offered up by Trump proxies and other assorted right-wingers this week.

1. Sarah Palin gives a basically incoherent speech, which lands with a thud.

Sarah Palin was out there making her boy Donald Trump look just great this week, as only she can! In a speech to the Milwaukee County Republican Party ahead of the next week’s Wisconsin primary, Palin offered up this tossed salad of gibberish, among others:

What the heck are you thinking, candidates? What the heck are you thinking when you’re actually asking for more immigrants—even illegal immigrants, welcoming them in. Even inducing and seducing them with gift baskets: “Come on over the border and here’s a gift basket of teddy bears and soccer balls.”

Apparently, no one understood what she was talking about and reportedly gave her no applause for eight straight excruciating minutes.

She proceeded to ramble about trade, an issue she says only Trump understands. “Trump is the only one who understands the art of the dill [sic],” she said, a coupla times.

You’d be hard-pressed to see a more bored-looking audience, and they showed the Palinator precious little love. Or maybe they were miffed that Trump sent her, rather than showing up himself as Cruz and Kasich did.

At one point Palin tried to draw a direct connection between Trump and conservative patron saint Ronald Reagan. Then she speculated that maybe “the establishment will start a #NeverReagan campaign.”

Oh, good one. If only ’twere possible.

2. Trump’s spokesperson Katrina Pierson thinks if she shouts something, that’ll make it true.

When she got the unenviable job of cleaning up her boss’s mess after he said maybe women should be punished if they have illegal abortions, Pierson took to the airwaves. She started off by asserting that Trump “never called for a ban on abortion.”

The fact that that statement was at odds with recorded facts seemed not to perturb her.

“He said, ‘I would ban it,’” CNN host Alisyn Camerota pointed out. “You are mincing words here.”

“This is a misspeak!” Pierson yelled back, pointing out that Trump has backtracked, taking three different positions on the issue in under 24 hours. “There was a misspeak here, and you have a presidential candidate that clarified the record. Not once, but twice.”

“But his clarifications were also confusing,” Camerota pointed out.

“No, they weren’t confusing!” Pierson shouted.

If you found them confusing, you’fre just wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. Case closed.

Pierson later suggested that we shouldn’t even be talking about what Trump thinks about abortion because terrorism exists.

And just in case you thought things on Team Trump could not get any more surreal, Pierson is now on a reality show.

Yep.

3. Things just got weirder and even more awful on Team Trump.

Roger Stone, the delightful political operative who made headlines this week by promising “days of rage” at the Republican convention if Trump is not the nominee, recently had a conversation about how much he would enjoy it if Hillary Clinton committed suicide.

In an appearance on the lunatic fringe radio show and podcast, Caravan to Midnight, that surfaced this week, Stone had the following exchange with host John B. Wells:

ROGER STONE: Hillary gives a $675,000 speech, she talks for 20 minutes to Goldman Sachs, that’s outrageous, what did she say and she says she’s going to bust Wall Street. Not a chance—

JOHN B. WELLS: You know, I’d pay that kind of money just to see her jump off the Hollywood sign.

STONE: I’m with you on that.

WELLS: I’d pay for that, I’d sell all my stuff and go, “Hey, come on, I’m a little short here. Somebody help me out, I gotta see this.”

STONE: Yes, I’d kick in on that.

More fun facts about Stone: He recently marketed himself as Trump’s “inside man” to a gathering of conspiracy theorists, where he marketed his books Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family and The Clintons’ War on Women.

He dedicated that last one to a known Holocaust denier.

Good times.

So, when Trump talks about appointing the “best people” and the “smartest people” when he is president, we’re beginning to see how that all might shape up.

OK, we’re trembling now.

4. Religious right leaders are glad that the whole idea of punishing women for having abortions is now out in the open.

Although Donald Trump has completed his 180 on the topic of making abortion illegal and making women who have one criminals, he sure got the religious right all hopped up about that possibility.

Pat Robertson seemed to struggle a bit with the issue. While he acknowledged that it seems “a bit draconian” to punish women, the fact is, “if somebody says abortion is murder, then what do you do to somebody who commits murder?”

Uncle Pat’s just asking. Just wondering. Just a little idle chitchatting.

Another right-wing charmer seemed much less perplexed about it. Jay Sekulow of the misleadingly named American Center for Law and Justice, a legal group Robertson founded, said if Roe v. Wade is overturned, states can just start making laws on how women can be punished! Yeehah!

RightWingWatch reported extensively on Sekulow’s comments if you’re game to get even more terrified.

5. Conservative media have a new conspiracy theory about Obama.

When a technical glitch resulted in an audio dropout as French president Francois Hollande discussed fighting terrorism at a bilateral meeting with President Obama this week, the conspiracy theorists were all over it.

Conservative media outlets like Breitbart, Media Research Center and the Federalist wasted no time spreading word that Muslim dictator Obama had scrubbed the words “Islamic terrorism” from Hollande’s speech.

Why would he do that? Because he hates America. Try to keep up.

Later, when the White House released the full transcripts and tapes and apologized for the technical error, conservative media was having none of it.