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  • 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.