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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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

  • 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.

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    "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.

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    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".

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    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.

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    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.

  • Comment: Upvote armies and legions of likes

    A television show you’ve never heard of is currently the next big thing in the US.

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    It’s a fly-on-the-wall reality show about a family of shootin’ huntin’ fishin’ Southerners who became wealthy from their duck hunting business, and the third season is breaking television viewing records.

    I know a fair amount about Duck Dynasty, and yet I have never watched a minute of it. I doubt I ever will. But it is part of the cultural fabric of the US and the American-focused web milieu, and my understanding of human culture is more comprehensive for knowing about it.

    I learnt about Duck Dynasty from a podcast, NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. PCHH saves me a lot of time – one hour a week, and I’m up to date with a range of pop culture references that I would likely never have encountered otherwise. I’m leveraging the critical cultural apparatus of talking heads to diversify my investment in cultural capital.

    My tendency to rely on outsourcing a lot of my cultural consumption is not unique. It’s indicative of a wider social movement. We are faced with such an overabundance of content that there is no time to read, watch, consume and participate in everything – and it has always been thus, but not to such a huge extent.

    Reliance on review culture is not new, but it is evolving. The depth of review coverage has lessened to a large degree, as the breadth of available content stretches thin our attention. We’re faced with recommendation culture, and have become more discerning about what we consume in full, and what we merely glimpse – like Duck Dynasty.

    Now, enough valuable time reading about recommendation culture, let me recommend some cultural recommendation systems.

    Slate podcasts – the original and still often the best marker of what has captured the zeitgeist in any given week, these podcasts are discussions covering the most interesting happenings in their designated field – politics, culture, sport. They also have Spoiler Specials and Book Club podcasts, particularly handy for quick and dirty cliffnotes on that movie or book that everyone is talking about.

    NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour – a weekly conversation about entertainment and pop culture events, with the podcast hosts sourced from the National Public Radio’s culturally-attuned writers and presenters. PCHH closes every week with a segment called ‘What’s Making Us Happy’, which is useful for cultural tip-offs ranging from the San Fermin album to the newest Broadway adaptation.

    Vulture – there are a lot of entertainment news sites, but New York Magazine’s Vulture is frequently the informed, diverse and witty. Not only do they have the most up-to-date pop culture news, insider gossip and review coverage, but the style is playful and often more entertaining than the ‘entertainment’ it covers.

    Book Riot – one of the most fun book sites, their tag line ‘Always books. Never boring’ is a succinct but accurate description. Their ‘Critical Linkage’ posts are particularly useful as a concise and amusing round-up of news from the world of books.

    Slashfilm – this movie review site, and particularly their podcast /filmcast, features movie nerds talking about films in great depth, with background knowledge and differing perspectives. You’ll never need to see a movie again – but in case you want to, they break their podcast into two segments, clearly signposting the spoiler-laden coverage in the latter half of the recording.

    What are your recommendation recommendations? Come tell me on that one recommendation engine to rule them all, twitter @annetreasure.

    Anne Treasure is a recent survivor of the book industry.