Noordin laptop videos show bomb planning

Indonesian police have released a series of files from slain terror leader Noordin Mohammed Top’s laptop showing detailed and chillingly nonchalant planning behind the July bombings in Jakarta.


Videos on the computer seized in the Central Java raid this month that killed Noordin, 41, show suicide bombers and other militants discussing and making preparations for the July 17 attacks, which killed seven people.

In one video, the two suicide bombers, Dani Dwi Permana, 18, and Nana Ikhwan Maulana, 28, are seen doing stretches near an empty lot in front of the targeted JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels.

In another video, the bombers and hotel florist Ibrohim — who police say helped stage the attack from the inside — picnic on biscuits and apples on the grass in front of the hotels.

Syaifudin Jaelani, a fourth militant still on the run from police, says off camera: “America, destroyed; Australia, destroyed; Indonesia, destroyed.”

In yet another clip, teenage bomber Dani is seen in front of the hotels saying: “This is not suicide, this is a good deed.”

“We see how they are preparing themselves, how they have filmed their plans and their surveys of targets through their own eyes,” police spokesman Nanan Soekarna told reporters.

“We see how they really did prepare themselves, that this isn’t just something the police have been saying.”

“We found the laptop on Noordin’s back,” he said.

Other files found on Noordin’s laptop included videos showing shopping and discussions of the impending attacks, as well as letters by Jaelani intended for his family that describe the operation’s organisational structure.

“We’re an organisation with efficient leadership, there are administrators, those who manage funding… those who look after the families of holy warriors, those who find transport, look for explosives, look for weapons, handle internal and overseas affairs,” Jaelani wrote.

Detective Tito Karnavian said police still regard the network Noordin built as a potent threat despite his death.

“This network has the capability to build new cells — for example, Syaifudin’s (Jaelani’s) cell, which has not been destroyed yet,” Karnavian said.

“The targets previously were the far enemy (such as the United States and Australia) but now they are also targeting the Indonesian government which they say is promoting democracy, which is being pushed by the West,” he said.

Noordin, a Malaysian who headed a violent splinter faction of the radical Jemaah Islamiyah network, was killed along with three of his militants during a September 17 raid on a village house outside Solo city.

Noordin headed an organisation he dubbed “Al-Qaeda in the Malay Archipelago” and was one of Asia’s most wanted men for allegedly masterminding attacks including a 2003 bombing of the Marriott that killed 12 people.

He was also wanted for the 2004 bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta and 2005 attacks on tourist restaurants on the holiday island of Bali.

Gates makes surprise visit to Afghanistan

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates flew into Kabul for talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and commanders about Washington’s new strategy to send 30,000 extra troops to fight the Taliban.


It is the first official US visit since President Barack Obama last week announced he would boost the the US deployment in Afghanistan to 100,000 to counter an increasingly virulent Taliban insurgency.

The Pentagon has said the first wave of 1,500 extra US Marines will begin arriving in southern Afghanistan next week as the top military officer said there was a short window to seize back the initiative from the Taliban.

Open to talks

“We want to talk with President Karzai and (Defence) Minister Wardak about the president’s decision and the implementation of that decision, how we will use our troops and the additional troops from our allies in partnership with the Afghan national security forces,” Gates told journalists.

The Pentagon chief said he would raise the issue of stepping up the training and retention of Afghanistan’s fledgling army and police, a cornerstone of Obama’s strategy which hopes to bring a quick end to the war.

In an interview with CNN, Karzai said Afghans wanted to be in charge of security “sooner, rather than later” but said it would take two years to train Afghan forces to the point where they can lead operations in many areas.

Concerns mount for Afghan youth

Experts warn that Afghanistan lacks literate young men, veterans with leadership skills, facilities for training and money for weapons.

A senior NATO commander has warned that the current police force of around 68,000 is prone to corruption. Out of 94,000 soldiers trained so far, 10,000 have defected and 15 percent of the armed forces are drug addicts.

Obama’s plan to start withdrawing US troops in July 2011 has sparked major concern in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan that the Taliban could sit out the surge, regroup and attack a pared down US force in 18 months’ time.

Gates said he was seeking to reassure Kabul of the long-term US commitment, despite strenuous domestic opposition to the war back home.

“Another major message will be the importance of a long-term relationship between the United States, ISAF (the NATO-run multinational force based in the country) and Afghanistan,” he told reporters.

Karzai delayed cabinet

Karzai, who faces huge pressure to form a transparent government after his fraud-tainted re-election in August, has postponed the unveiling of his long-awaited cabinet until Saturday at the earliest, a parliament spokesman said.

Washington has warned Karzai to fight corruption or see his cabinet bypassed in favour of lower level officials to provide services to Afghans as part of the sweeping new war strategy.

Gates emphasised “the importance for us of capable, honest ministers in areas that are critical for our success, such as defence and interior” — calling both the current incumbents “very capable people”.

The Pentagon chief will also hold talks with top US and NATO commanders, but not the overall commander on the ground, US General Stanley McChrystal, who is due to appear before Congress in Washington later Tuesday.

NATO boosts troops

NATO allies have agreed to support the US surge by dispatching another 7,000 troops, which are expected to swell the ranks of foreign forces in Afghanistan next year to 150,000.

With military commanders, Gates is due to discuss the logistical challenges facing the influx of reinforcements after signing deployment orders for the first wave of 17,000 more US troops that will arrive early next year.

“It’s going to require a lot of efforts,” Gates told reporters.

Gates’ visit to Kabul comes four days after more than 1,000 US Marines, British troops and Afghan forces launched a major offensive in the southern province of Helmand, a Taliban heartland and primary opium-growing area.

Most of the first wave of extra US troops will be going to Helmand and neighbouring province Kandahar, the spiritual capital of the Taliban and the scene of the worst fighting since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the Taliban.

Soaring violence has made this year the deadliest since the Taliban fell from power, killing record numbers of civilians, Afghan and foreign troops.

Cardinals rally around Pope at Easter

Pope Benedict XVI steered clear of the paedophile priest scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church in his high-profile Easter speech, while top prelates closed ranks around him.


“The people of God are with you and do not allow themselves to be impressed by the idle chatter of the moment,” said the dean of the Vatican’s College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano.

The unusual gesture just before Benedict began celebrating Easter mass in St Peter’s Square echoed the embattled pope’s own remarks a week ago when he urged Christians “not be intimidated by the idle chatter of prevailing opinions.”

The pope, in his much-anticipated “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message on Sunday, made no mention of the scandals.

Humankind is in a ‘profound crisis’: Pope

However the pontiff made a broad call for a “spiritual and moral conversion” and said humankind was in a “profound crisis, one which requires deep change, beginning with consciences.”

In contrast, leading bishops in both Belgium and Germany issued forthright condemnations of the Church’s role in covering up for predator priests.

Belgium’s Andre Joseph Leonard, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel, said in his Easter homily that the Church had mismanaged the crisis “with a guilty silence.”

Freiburg Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, for his part, said: “Today particularly we must set out together and examine inconceivable events, awful crimes, the Church’s dark aspects as well as our shadowy sides.”

Concerns mount over scandal

Vatican expert Bruno Bartoloni said the Church was going through its “hardest period since the publication (in 1968) of the ‘Humanae Vitae’ (Of Human Life)” — a papal encyclical by pope Paul VI that attacked use of the birth control pill as a mortal sin.

“At that time the crisis was as deep, with personal attacks against the pope and the Church in general,” Bartoloni told AFP.

Many of the pilgrims among the tens of thousands huddled under umbrellas for the rain-drenched Easter mass here defended the pope.

Edgar Meier of Germany accused the media of blowing up the affair, saying: “It’s not a typical thing of the Church. Journalists are making it something bigger than it really is.”

Calls for resignation

But another German in the crowd, Claudia Binion, said the pope “should resign because he is too implicated” in the crisis, which she called a “huge problem.”

“For those who have these tendencies, the Church is the best place to go because they are with children and are hidden and protected,” she charged.

The US group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said the victims still seek concrete action from the pope.

“When we speak up and tell how our childhood innocence was shattereed by sexual assaults by priests it is not ‘petty gossip’,” said SNAP president Barbara Blaine. “Lofty statements from Vatican officials do not change the facts.”

Easter mass at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral did not go as smoothly as protesters hung pairs of children’s shoes on the railings to represent the victims of predator priests.

Abuse survivors heckled Archbishop Diarmuid Martin as he went inside, and protesters held placards reading: “Hypocrites for Jesus. Catholic Church rapes, abuses, destroys children and covers it up, covers it up, covers it up.”

In his homily, Martin said: “The spotlight of media and public opinion is focused on the failures and the betrayals of Church leaders and a damaging culture which has grown up in the Church.

“The truth will set the Church free, even if the truth is hard to digest,” he said.

Scandals trace back to 1930s

Predominantly Catholic Ireland has been rocked by three judicial reports in the past five years detailing child sex abuse and cover-ups going back to the 1930s.

The pope last month addressed a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics expressing “shame and remorse” over predator priests in Ireland and chided Irish bishops for making “serious mistakes” in responding to allegations.

The scandals have cast a pall over Easter, normally the most joyous day in the Christian calendar, commemorating the day when Jesus Christ is believed to have been resurrected.

In the United States on Saturday, fresh allegations emerged in court documents that Cardinal William Levada — now the head of the Vatican department in charge of disciplining predator priests — had reassigned an alleged child molester in the 1990s without warning his parishioners.

The pope headed the same department — the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — from 1981 to 2005, and himself faces allegations that he helped to protect predator priests both in that role and when he was archbishop of Munich.

Reform MP expense entitlements: Bowen

Federal Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen says the opposition will look sympathetically at sensible changes to the system governing the expense entitlements of parliamentarians.


West Australian Liberal backbencher Don Randall is the latest MP under scrutiny after claiming $5000 in travel expenses for a trip to Cairns for “electorate business,” when he was taking possession of an investment property in Queensland.

The entitlements row has engulfed both sides of politics with six members of the government front bench, including the prime minister, repaying travel allowance claims for attending weddings.

“We’re seeing a pattern of behaviour here,” Mr Bowen told ABC radio on Thursday.

The current situation did not pass the “common sense test” and Labor would support an independent inquiry into the system.

“If the government wants to put forward sensible changes, guidelines for less grey areas, we would look at that sympathetically.”

Changes to the rules will not eliminate the “grey areas”, Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer says.

“There are always matters of judgment around the edges and it will always be thus, no matter what rules you put into place,” she told Sky News.

Ms O’Dwyer described as “successful” the current system of entitlements provided parliamentarians acted within the rules and consulted with the finance department when uncertain about eligibility.

Labor backbencher Ed Husic said the Australian people would find it difficult to balance the government’s system of cuts to grants and funding while “not making the right choices” when it came to travel entitlements.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon says Mr Randall should provide a statement justifying his travel to Cairns.

If the MP visited an investment property during the trip there was a “compelling argument” for repaying the claim.

But Mr Randall’s claim could be legitimate, Senator Xenophon said.

“I’ve gone interstate to speak at conferences,” he said, adding the term “electorate business” was defined broadly.

When parliament returns in November Senator Xenophon plans to move for a joint houses inquiry into entitlements.

He rejected a Greens plan for an integrity commissioner, saying it would probably cost millions of dollars to save a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

Comment: Stop killer robots before it’s too late

The use of armed drones over the past decade has dramatically changed warfare and brought new humanitarian and legal challenges.


But unmanned aerial vehicles still have a human pilot—backed up by a team of people—who decides what to target and when to fire.

That human role in deciding when and what – or whom – to attack could be taken “out-of-the-loop” and handed over to machines. Rapid advances in technology are resulting in efforts to develop weapons – so-called fully autonomous weapons or “killer robots” – that would be able to operate on their own without any human supervision. And that would change the process of fighting wars, as we know it.

Nongovernmental organizations have formed a global coalition to campaign for a ban on fully autonomous weapons. In its first public statement, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots said that, “giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield is an unacceptable application of technology.”

In the six months since the campaign began, there has been a flurry of activity to address this threat and to fend off development of these weapons before it’s too late. The campaign’s membership has doubled, with 44 nongovernmental organisations in 21 countries signing on. There have been parliamentary questions and briefings on the topic in Belgium, France, Germany, the UK, and elsewhere. Campaigners have written letters to their political leaders, talked to their parliamentarians and policymakers, held seminars and events, briefed media, and undertaken an array of other activities aimed at raising the need to address the issue of fully autonomous weapons right now. 

Most countries, including Australia, are still in the process of figuring out their policy position on fully autonomous weapons and have not spoken publicly.

But in recent months, a number of nations have expressed their views for the first time.

The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva met in May to consider a report by the UN expert on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions that listed a range of concerns over fully autonomous weapons. The report called for a moratorium on development of the weapons until an international framework is agreed upon. More than two dozen nations spoke during the debate, expressing support for an international process to examine this topic.

At a meeting of the UN disarmament committee last week, France urged countries to “look to the future” by addressing the challenges posed by fully autonomous weapons and “the fundamental question of the place of man in the decision to use lethal force.” France said that military, legal and technical experts should consider the issue in “an appropriate disarmament forum.”

The statement was part of France’s pitch as chair of the next meeting of the Convention on Conventional Weapons to add fully autonomous weapons to the convention’s agenda of work. Another option is to create a high-level panel of experts to consider the issue, as the UN report recommended.

There seem to be no shortage of suggestions on where to take this issue and so many concerns that multiple discussions may be necessary. But governments should carve out time to consider what lies ahead.

While fighting rages in Syria and humanitarian crises sprout around the globe, it can be hard for governments to get long-term issues on their agenda.  However, the technology of autonomous warfare is fast advancing. That’s why our campaign is pushing for governments to pick up and tackle the threat of fully autonomous weapons right now.

Mary Wareham is the Arms Division advocacy director at Human Rights Watch and global coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

Blog: Let’s hear it for women in sport

A desire to be the best gives elite sportspeople the hunger to push themselves in pursuit of glory.


At the moment the attitude and achievements of our female sports administrators and athletes is amongst the best in the world. In this blooming era of women’s sport too few Australian’s would be aware of their success. The “I Support Women in Sport Awards” is hoping to illuminate the achievements of amazing Australian sports-women.

This year both our women’s rugby league team the Jillaroos and our female cricket team the Southern Stars triumphed at the World Cup.

The Hockeyroos are ranked number two in the world, while our netball team the Diamonds are also number two – both sides have world supremacy in our sites. Australia’s Opals are just one off the top ranking and players like Liz Cambage are in demand from basketball teams all over the globe.

Our continent is also turning heads in individual sports. Australian females occupy three of the top five rankings in world surfing. We have more world champions on the water with rowing’s Kim Crow and in the canoe with Jessica Fox.

We are also sizzling on dry land. Karie Webb is ranked inside the top ten in the golfing world and 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur is ranked amongst the top 20 best tennis players on the planet. Seventeen-year-old sensation Ashleigh Barty and countrywoman Casey Dellacqua aren’t far behind after making it to the Grand Slam Doubles finals at Wimbledon, the Australian and US Open.

Quickly skimming through the above list of sensational sporting achievements it is clear there is no lack of attitude, no shortage of desire on the part of our female sports stars. While many proudly support female sporting achievement more can and should be done.

Enter the “I Support Women in Sport Awards,” now in its third year of formally celebrating female sporting prowess.

Women’s Health Australia Editor, Felicity Harley, believes it is essential to acknowledge the hard-work of female athletes.

“The awards play an important role in celebrating the successes of women in sport and is a key platform for bringing the achievements of the country’s female sporting greats into the public eye,” she says.

The awards also aim to encourage the next generation of sporting talent. The winner of the Sportswoman of the Year mantle, Sally Fitzgibbons was encouraged by the achievements of a former winner.

“Last year Anna Meares won and to follow in her footsteps inspires me to get out and work hard to chase this dream.”

Hopefully the next generation of female sporting superstars will be watching on, confident of a future where their hard work will be recognised.

Tweet your support of female sporting stars by using the #Isupportwomeninsport



Anderson expecting hostile reception

James Anderson is expecting plenty of hostility from the Australian public when England travel Down Under for the forthcoming Ashes series but insists the players can deal with it.


Following the 3-0 success this summer, England will be looking to win their fourth successive Ashes series for the first time in 123 years.

The rivalry between the two sides is likely to be intensified this time around following calls from Australia coach Darren Lehmann to the home fans to send Stuart Broad home crying after he refused to walk in the opening Test of the summer.

But Anderson, who now sits second only to Sir Ian Botham in England’s all-time Test wicket-takers, is confident the tourists can silence any raucous home crowds.

“It can’t really get any more hostile than when we have played there before,” he said.

“Australia in general can be quite an intimidating place to play, they are very passionate and very vocal as well.

“Thankfully we have got a lot of experience in the team of people who have played there before in good times and bad times, we have experience of both the media and the public over there.

“The best way to shut them up is to perform well and certain players cope with it in their own ways.

“It is important, first and foremost, that we play well and if we do that then hopefully we can silence the crowds.

“I don’t think that whatever has happened will make that any worse. It will be a very partisan crowd but it always has been and always will be.”

The 31-year-old Lancastrian has also backed teammate Broad to take any extra attention on the chin and believes learning to deal with jibes from Australia, both on and off the field, can allow England to maintain their focus on a famous victory.

“He [Broad] got quite a lot in 2010/11 and dealt with it brilliantly until he got injured,” said Anderson.

“We all get stick when we go there, some more than others, and if you can accept that and prepare yourself for it and have a plan with how to deal with it then it goes a long way to dealing with it once you’re actually out there.

“Certainly in 2006 I definitely felt that and I know a number of the wives and girlfriends felt that as well when we were walking around at Christmas time and walking down the street getting abuse.

“We dealt with it better in 2010 and tried to interact more with the public and embrace their culture rather than be guarded and stay in our little bubble.

“One thing we found as well was that when we started playing well a lot of the people over there actually started appreciating how well we were playing.

“It is just a passion for the sport and we understand that and hopefully we will enjoy that again.”

England won 3-1 on their last Ashes tour of Australia in 2010/11 as the home crowd’s focus turned from sledging England’s players to turning on their own team, something Anderson does not expect this time around.

“I don’t see them doing that this time,” he added.

“At the start of that series they weren’t sure of the their strongest team but now they are a bit more settled so I imagine their focus now will be more on Pommie-bashing so we will have to prepare ourselves for that.”

Indigenous team in Ireland to win:Kennelly

On the eve of the first international rules Test, All Stars assistant coach Tadhg Kennelly has hit back at suggestions the AFL hasn’t taken the series seriously by sending an all-indigenous team to Ireland.


Some critics have argued the AFL should have selected the best players from across the league rather than the Aboriginal All Stars.

But former Gaelic footballer turned premiership player Kennelly dismisses such talk.

“We are here to win the series,” the code-hopper told AAP en route to Cavan ahead of Saturday night’s first Test.

“I think it’s a great initiative that the AFL have done and it’s got nothing to do with them not taking the series seriously.

“If the AFL didn’t want to be part of the series they wouldn’t be played – simple as that. You wouldn’t send a team.”

The AFL’s head of diversity, Jason Mifsud, is much more blunt.

“In part it’s offensive to be suggesting we are not taking it seriously by sending an all-indigenous team,” he told AAP on Wednesday.

“On a number of measures this team would stack up against previous international teams.”

Mifsud said the format celebrated the outstanding contribution of indigenous players.

Twenty years ago there were 30 Aboriginal footballers in the competition and now there are 80.

Writing in the Irish Examiner this week John Fogarty stated: “Don’t think for a second that the team Ireland are facing … are Australia.”

“Professionals they may be but just three of the 21-man squad have previous international rules experience,” the journalist wrote.

The All Stars will be the first all-indigenous team to represent an Australian sporting code at senior level overseas since the first cricket team toured England more than 150 years ago.

Vice-captain Aaron Davey says that fact makes the series “very special”.

“This is the highlight of my career,” the Melbourne small forward who retired at the end of the 2013 season told AAP.

“A lot of people might look at it negatively but I think it’s great for the game itself. All the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players bring so much to the game.”

Davey said Saturday night would see two great cultures going head-to-head.

But he stressed: “We are here to win. We are not here just to come over and compete. Come Saturday we’ll put it all aside and hopefully come away with the win.”

Before both the Cavan match and the second Test in Dublin the following Saturday, Australia will perform a war cry that was first developed by young indigenous players in 2009.

Davey says it’s about intimidating the opposition but also sharing culture.

“It’s all about pride,” he said.

“But it’s also going to be great for the Irish people and the spectators to really experience our culture and see the war cry.”

Obama says Washington must ‘regain’ trust

US President Barack Obama has sought to heal the wounds of a government shutdown and debt ceiling showdown, and warned Washington it must stop governing by crisis.


Obama said US leaders needed to “earn back” the trust of the American people, in a short statement after the Senate voted to back a compromise deal and before the House of Representatives was expected to do likewise.

“Once this agreement arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately,” Obama said after the Senate vote on Wednesday.

“We’ll begin reopening our government immediately. And we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people.”

Obama called on Democrats and Republicans to come together to advance the interests of the people of the United States, not just their own political careers.

“I’m eager to work with anybody, Democrat or Republican, House or Senate members on any idea that will grow the economy, create new jobs, strengthen the middle class and get the fiscal house in order for the long term.”

Obama called on his political foes to work with him to pass comprehensive immigration reform, now stalled in the House, a farm bill and to agree on a budget that would save America’s long-term fiscal future.

He struck a magnanimous tone, conscious that the House is yet to vote on the deal, and that voters have shown disdain over the latest showdown in Washington.

“We’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,” Obama said in the statement in the White House press briefing room.

“My hope and expectation is everybody has learned that there is no reason why we can’t work on the issues at hand, why we can’t disagree between the parties while still being agreeable and make sure that we’re not inflicting harm on the American people when we do have disagreements.”

New shoes may see turf records tumble

Horse racing records around the world may be smashed after Australian scientists unveiled world-first, stunning new shoes that will slash the weight of a racehorse’s normal footwear.


Standard cast-aluminium horse shoes weigh about one kilogram each.

But the boffins at the CSIRO are 3D printing titanium sets which should weigh 50 per cent less.

If the fancy new shoes are widely adopted – and the Aussie horse racing industry appears enthusiastic so far – experts predict lightning-quick thoroughbreds to race down the track like super-charged rockets.

“Naturally, we’re very excited at the prospect of improved performance from these shoes,” said top trainer John Maloney, whose gelding Such Hope was the first in the world to be fitted with the jazzy 3D printed shoes.

The CSIRO’s titanium expert John Barnes told AAP: “It’s a lot like bicycle racing to me – speed ultimately comes down to grams.”

Such Hope, a four-year-old bay that scored a recent second at Cranbourne, in Victoria, had the hot-pink coloured shoes fitted a few weeks back.

The process involved experts from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation scanning each of the animal’s hooves and then 3D printing its shoes to its exact specifications.

The shoes take just a few hours to print – offering another key advantage over standard cast aluminium versions.

And they cost about $600.

Three dimensional printing is not new, but the products the technique can make is rapidly evolving.

Australian scientists are also researching ways to 3D print replacement human body parts.

And its uses in sport are only just starting to be explored, with obvious uses in cycling, motor racing and sailing.

CSIRO’s new horse shoes have come too soon for this year’s spring carnival, including the Caulfield and Melbourne cups.

But Mr Barnes reckons the shoes could be put into broader production within a couple of months.

The local racing industry appears positive about the development so far, though it remains unclear if the regulations would need a change-up to accommodate the footwear.

Campbell Mavity, president of the Australian Farriers and Blacksmiths Association said the cost of manufacturing titanium may be one of the main barriers to limit the market.

Lancaster to lean on Hodgson

England rugby union coach Stuart Lancaster is looking forward to picking the brains of football counterpart Roy Hodgson in a bid to gain an insight into how to cope with the burden of expectation.


England are due to host the 2015 World Cup and Lancaster is keen to see what lessons he can learn from Hodgson, who oversaw a 2-0 win against Poland at Wembley on Tuesday that guaranteed a place for the England football team at next year’s soccer World Cup in Brazil.

Now Lancaster hopes to meet up with Hodgson during the course of November when the England rugby union team face Australia, Argentina and world champions New Zealand on successive weekends at Twickenham.

“Hopefully Roy will come into camp and we’ll have a chance to chat,” Lancaster said Wednesday after naming his squad for next month’s Tests.

“I’ve spoken to him a couple of times in the past. We’ll certainly invite him to our games and hopefully he can enjoy them without worrying about the result.

“Credit to the footballers for dealing with the expectation and pressure.

“I thought the way they coped with it, the way Roy coped with it, was magnificent really. I think the fact the country were behind them, it shows how a crowd can also inspire a team.

“I’m delighted for Roy and his coaching team. Hopefully they can plan now and really look forward to 2014.”

Lancaster added: “One of the challenges we’ll face is the expectation and pressure of being the home team at a World Cup.

“New Zealand faced that in 2011 and I thought they had that maturity and experience to deal with that pressure and still deliver on the stage.

“Our challenge is to be that experienced and to be ready for that.”

Meanwhile Hodgson, speaking at a separate press conference Wednesday, said that for all his 38 years as a manager he too was keen to learn from other sports, notably rugby union and cricket, where overseas tours are routine events in contrast to football where prolonged periods abroad only come about during major championships such as a World Cup.

“I think you learn from other sports. I’ve had some dealings with Stuart Lancaster, I’ve had some dealings with Clive Woodward (England’s 2003 World Cup-winning coach), from rugby union.

“I met Andy Flower (the England cricket who next week will take the team to Australia as they seek a fourth successive Ashes win over their arch-rivals) and we agreed that when his busy time in the summer with the Ashes is over and my time trying to qualify the team is over, we’d get together over a coffee and swap some stories.

“I’m very interested to hear how they approach things.”

Hodgson, once in charge of the Swiss national side, was also keen to catch up with British and Irish Lions rugby union coach Warren Gatland, who this year led the combined side to a 2-1 series win in Australia.

“It’ll be interesting to talk to the Lions people as well, because they have long periods away from home when they tour because they go to the southern hemisphere.

“I’m all ears, really. Any information we can get which will improve our knowledge, the better it is.

“But on the other hand, I do think with the FA (England’s governing Football Association), we sit on a large, large body of knowledge as well, a lot of experience.

“It would have been better for me if I’d met those guys before going to America with Switzerland probably (for the 1994 World Cup)!”

Frustrated Monfils crashes out in Vienna

Sixth seed Gael Monfils fell victim to a 213th-ranked lucky loser on Wednesday as the Frenchman crashed to a 7-6 (7-0) 7-5 first-round defeat against Jaroslav Pospisil at the Austrian Open.


A week after beating Roger Federer, an out-of-sorts Monfils had no answer to his little-known opponent, who got into the draw hours before the match when Australian Marinko Matosevic pulled out with a shoulder injury.

“I’m pissed, I didn’t come here to lose in the first round,” said Monfils, who admitted that he failed to make the quick turnaround required after arriving from Asia and working to adjust once again to Europe.

“Credit to him, he played well, but it was more about my body and my lack of game. He was playing tough but I was just not ready. I’m not happy with tonight.

“I tried hard, I did the best I could, but it’s not easy to come from outdoors (Shanghai) and adjust to an indoor court in only a few days. This is tough to take.”

Czech fifth seed Radek Stepanek reached the quarter-finals after taking nearly two and three-quarter hours to defeat Lukas Lacko 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 7-6 (7-5). Fellow Czech seed Lukas Rosol joined in tuning up for next month’s Davis Cup final by defeating Mirza Basic of Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-3 7-5.

Monfils went down to love in the first-set tiebreaker but got a break back in the second for 4-all before Pospisil again found his range. The Czech broke for 6-5, then a game later earned three match points from a weak Monfils return. One was enough to see him through to the second round against Austrian Dominic Thiem.

French top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said he is nearing a decision on a new coach but won’t make any announcement until a deal is done.

Tsonga, who is fighting for a place in the eight-man season finals in London next month, is top seed at the Austrian Open and begins in the second round after a bye when he faces German Daniel Brands.

Tsonga, who missed nearly three months of play over the summer with a knee injury, said he will soon have a new mentor after splitting in September from Australian Roger Rasheed, who also formerly coached Monfils.

“I’m looking for a coach and I’m getting close to one,” Tsonga said in his only words on the subject.

The former Australian Open finalist has gone it alone in the past, playing without a coach in 2011 before picking up Rasheed after the Australian ended with Monfils.

World number eight Tsonga is coming off a Shanghai semi-final last week, losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.

Tsonga stands provisional ninth in the field for the World Tour Finals from November 4, but needs to keep earning ranking points if he is to be assured of making the trip.

He is trying to stay ahead of a pursing pack led by compatriot Richard Gasquet and Canadian Milos Raonic.

The Frenchman said he is still playing at less than 100 per cent on his knee, but has been cleared by doctors to compete.

Tsonga won the Vienna title in 2011, his only previous appearance, and in his eyes he is defending that crown after not playing here in 2012.

“I’m feeling good and I’m fresh in my head,” said the player starting his fourth event in the last five weeks since making his return.

HSU lawyers circle after Williamson plea

Lawyers for the Health Services Union (HSU) say they will pursue friends, family and associates of Michael Williamson to claw back the millions he is believed to have cost the union.


The former HSU secretary and Labor Party president on Tuesday pleaded guilty to various charges including defrauding the union of almost $1 million.

It’s reported he declared himself bankrupt on the same day.

Selwyn Black of Carroll and O’Dea Lawyers is charged with recouping up to $5 million for the HSU.

“We’ve got a $5 million judgment against Williamson personally, now that’s only one string in our bow of recovery,” Mr Black told the ABC on Thursday.

“The second string is to go against other people who were involved in the exercise.”

This could include businesspeople who knowingly offered kickbacks in return for extra business, or services paid at an inflated rate.

“It’s clear to us that whatever outrageous amount Williamson made, there are others out there who’ve made a lot more out of this exercise,” Mr Black said.

He said Williamson’s apparent bankruptcy was a blessing because Michael Jones, who has been appointed trustee, would be able to ferret out hidden funds.

“In cases like these, my job is to check it’s not stashed under the pillowcase, hidden in the Cayman Islands or been given to a family friend with the purpose of hiding it from creditors,” Mr Jones has told Fairfax Media.

Pursuing the money with the help of the trustee was one strategy, Mr Black said, “and we’re going to give that a very good shake”.

“The second strategy is going against the other persons knowingly concerned and I might say there are larger amounts there,” he said.