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  • Washington state approves marijuana rules

    Washington has became the second US state to adopt rules for the recreational sale of marijuana, setting what advocates hope will become a template for the drug's legalisation around the world.


    "We feel very proud of what we're doing," said Sharon Foster, chairwoman of the Washington Liquor Control Board, as she and her two colleagues approved the rules on Wednesday.

    "We are making history."

    Washington and Colorado last year legalised the possession of up to an ounce (28 grams) of cannabis by adults over 21, with voters deciding to set up systems of state-licensed growers, processors and sellers.

    The measures put state officials in the difficult position of crafting rules for a fledgling industry barred by federal law for more than seven decades.

    The liquor board devised Washington's rules after nearly a year of research, debate and planning, including public hearings that drew hundreds of people around the state.

    They cover everything from the security at and size of licensed marijuana gardens, to how many pot stores can open in cities across the state.

    Sales are expected to begin by the middle of next year, with supporters hoping taxed pot might bring the state tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, with much of the revenue directed to public health and drug-abuse prevention.

    "What the Liquor Control Board has done is build a template for the responsible regulation of marijuana," said Alison Holcomb, the Seattle lawyer who drafted Washington's marijuana initiative.

    "This is a template that is going to be reviewed by other states, and already is being reviewed by other countries," including Mexico, Uruguay and Poland.

    Colorado approved its pot industry rules last month, and sales are expected to start in some cities there at the beginning of 2014.

    The two states' rules are largely similar, although Colorado will allow stores to sell recreational and medical marijuana. Both states will require such measures as seed-to-store tracking, background checks for license applicants, and child-resistant packaging.

    Washington liquor board members said they tried to strike a balance between making marijuana accessible enough that legal pot would undermine the black market, but not so accessible that it would threaten public health or safety.

    The board hopes the sale of legal pot will capture about one-quarter of the total pot market in the state, for starters.

    The federal government announced earlier this year it would not sue Washington, Colorado or other states over plans to tax and regulate marijuana sales for adults over 21, provided they address eight federal law enforcement priorities, including keeping marijuana off the black market and keeping it away from kids

  • Farina backs Australian Socceroos’ coach

    Frank Farina says it's a good thing a home-grown coach is set to return to the Socceroos' helm.


    Farina held the top job for six years before his axing in 2005 ushered in an era of three foreign coaches - Guus Hiddink, fellow Dutchman Pim Verbeek and German Holger Osieck.

    With the glow of Hiddink's great performance with the team at the 2006 World Cup a distant memory and Osieck sacked on Saturday, Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy has indicated the role will go to one of three leading A-League coaches - Graham Arnold, Ange Postecoglou and Tony Popovic.

    While not willing to comment on the Socceroos' recent woes, Farina said he was pleased the governing body was looking at the leading Australian coaches.

    "I don't want to talk about the national team, I'm not interested in making any comments," the Sydney FC coach Farina said after training on Thursday.

    "I'm sure the FFA will make the right decision and I'm looking forward to whoever it may be when they do.

    "I think it's good yes (that they are looking to appoint an Australian)."

    Farina, who was chosen over many candidates in 1999 including then caretaker coach Raul Blanco - who had replaced Terry Venables - departed in June 2005 after his team lost all three games at the Confederations Cup.

    Despite a short stint as Papua New Guinea national coach in 2011, he has been an A-League coach ever since, first with Brisbane from 2006 then Sydney FC from early last season.

    He said that's where he intended to remain and he was in no way surprised his name hadn't been linked to the current Socceroos vacancy.

    "From my personal perspective, no I'm not surprised or unhappy (that I haven't been mentioned)," he said.

    "I had six years and I think the body is still a bit too warm to even be reconsidered for that.

    "I've got a big enough task here with Sydney FC, it's a huge club with huge demands, so I've got enough in my plate.

  • We’re ready for any rough stuff: Davey

    Vice-captain Aaron Davey says his indigenous All Stars team might be smaller than Ireland but if there's any rough stuff in the international rules series "we aren't just going to stand back".


    Past Irish teams have complained about Australia's physical style of play but this year they'll be the side with the size advantage.

    "This Irish team will be the bigger team," Australia's assistant coach Tadhg Kennelly told AAP ahead of Saturday's first Test at Cavan (Sunday morning AEDT).

    "They've got some big guys that are 6'6" and 6'7".

    "These boys will be a lot bigger than our indigenous side."

    Kennelly was a key member of the Irish squad which outclassed Australia 2-0 in the 2011 series.

    He's played 12 international rules matches for Ireland over six series.

    But his close friend and Australian coach Michael O'Loughlin convinced the former Sydney Swans star to swap sides in 2013.

    Kennelly insists amateur Gaelic footballers are pretty much professionals except "they're not getting paid".

    "The amount of time and energy they've spent in the sports science of Gaelic football is enormous."

    Davey, however, isn't fazed by the potential for a bruising encounter.

    "We might be smaller but if the Irish are going to come out a bit more physical I can tell you now we aren't just going to stand back," the recently-retired Melbourne forward told AAP.

    "Quite clearly we are going to be out-sized in height and some of these guys are real athletic.

    "But our speed is our biggest strength."

    Australia played a combined Dublin universities team on Wednesday in preparation for Saturday's match and scored a comprehensive win at Parnell Park.

    Afterwards Davey stated: "I don't think I've ever played in a quicker team."

    "I reckon now that it's all up and going a lot of people are going to sit back in Australia and be glued to the TV and watch the game."

    Kennelly - the only man to have won an AFL premiership and an All-Ireland Gaelic football title - says Australia will rely on being quick and agile to put pressure on Ireland.

    The plan is to give the hosts less time to dispose of the ball.

    The assistant coach thinks the Irish could struggle to tackle the All Stars who plan to keep the ball out in the open.

    The indigenous team, on the other hand, will be tenacious, Kennelly said.

    "Their whole careers they've been playing against blokes that are bigger than them. Now it's no different playing against the Irish.

    "You don't have to be the biggest player in the world to tackle (and) we've also got some big boys that can throw their weight around."

    The 32-year-old expects Ash McGrath will likely to be Australia's keeper in the first Test.

    Kennelly has done a lot of work with the Brisbane Lions defender who was "super" during Wednesday's practice match.

    "He made some really good saves and his kicking is very good," Kennelly said.

    "Ash is a deep defender, he's kicked out an awful lot in the AFL, so it's not a foreign position to him.

    "The only foreign thing to him is obviously stopping and goal keeping."

    And, of course, dealing with the round ball.

  • NSW truckies lied to ICAC about kickbacks

    Three truck drivers who lied to the NSW corruption watchdog about paying off a heavy vehicle assessor to obtain a truck licence could now face prosecution.


    The Independent Commission Against Corruption is inquiring into allegations that former heavy vehicle competency assessor Christopher Binos received kickbacks for falsifying log books.

    The inquiry has heard Mr Binos, who worked on behalf of Roads and Maritime Services, received up to $1800 from truck drivers to make false log book entries.

    The entries made it appear applicants had passed a driving competency test.

    It's alleged Mr Binos falsely certified 91 people as competent to drive heavy vehicles despite spending no driving time with them.

    Alexander Daubney told the second day of the inquiry he paid $1500 to Mr Binos last year to have him fill out his log book.

    He said Mr Binos told him he could do the assessment - the final step in obtaining the licence in NSW - two ways.

    "(He said) you can actually do the test or not do the test and he'd fill out my forms," Mr Daubney said on Thursday.

    Mr Daubney admitted to counsel assisting ICAC, David McLure, that he gave false evidence during an initial examination.

    "You knew that when you were giving evidence to the commission that it was an offence to give false or misleading evidence?" Mr McLure asked.

    "Correct," Mr Daubney replied.

    Mr Daubney later told ICAC Commissioner David Ipp he did not realise the seriousness of the case and panicked.

    "I was a bit intimidated because I use my licence on a daily basis," he said.

    Fellow truck driver Mark McDonagh also admitted to lying when he was first brought before ICAC.

    Mr McDonagh told the inquiry on Thursday he paid Mr Binos $1800, gave him his log books and collected them later when the pair met at Burger King in Hoxton Park.

    Shane Florio, who gave evidence at the inquiry on Wednesday, also admitted to giving incorrect information initially.

    His lawyer told Mr Ipp his client had panicked, but on reflection, realised that was wrong.

    Mr Ipp will consider whether to refer the drivers for prosecution over giving false statements to ICAC.

    He said had the truck drivers told the truth, a public inquiry may not have been needed.

    "So these two days have been spent because they lied," he said.

    Mr Ipp said it had been a waste of money for ICAC, a matter very close to his "heart".

    The inquiry has concluded and a report will be prepared.