Keeping up with the Trumps: rough reality for the Secret Service

But for the US Secret Service agents who protect them 24 hours a day, keeping up with the Trumps is a non-stop ordeal, physically and financially.

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The president, his wife Melania, five children – and their children – live in multiple cities, and take their own business and vacation trips. The only common thread? Their convoys of large SUVs with tinted windows.

The entire security operation is hugely complicated by Trump himself, who takes pride in being unpredictable.

With such an unorthodox president, the bodyguard ranks have had to be beefed up to ensure his protection, said counter-terrorism expert James Reese.

“To do this job as well as they do, they need planned breaks so their situational awareness and alertness is always at the cutting edge,” Reese told AFP.

Related readingNew York, Washington and Florida 

Former president Barack Obama, his wife, and two daughters all lived in the White House in Washington.

Trump’s wife Melania has chosen to remain for now with their 11-year-old son Barron in their three-story gilded Fifth Avenue penthouse in New York. 

The Secret Service stands guard over the entire 68-story building, and also drives Barron to school and back every day.

Daughter Ivanka, 35, has relocated to Washington with her husband Jared Kushner and their three children. 

Both Ivanka and Kushner are senior aides to Trump. Their family lives in a mansion in the affluent Kalorama neighborhood, more than two miles (3.2 kilometers) from the White House.

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They receive a 24-hour guard and a motorcade whenever the power couple heads to work.

Trump’s grown sons Eric and Don Jr, who have taken control of the family’s real estate empire, also get constant protection. That includes an escort of beefy guards wearing dark glasses and earpieces whenever they travel to Trump properties in distant lands.

His daughter Tiffany also has a security detail.

WATCH: Trump praises Afghanistan bomb strike 

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Caribbean, Dubai, Ireland 

The costs are substantial. A simple trip Eric made to Uruguay in January cost American taxpayers $100,000.

In February, the two brothers travelled to Vancouver to inaugurate a new hotel, accompanied by their spouses and sister Tiffany. They went to Dubai to open a golf course. Before that, Eric visited a tourist project in the Dominican Republic.

And last month Don, Eric and Ivanka took their families to the Rocky Mountain resort of Aspen, Colorado for a ski break, dragging along a brigade of no less than 100 security minders.

According to the Aspen Times, the Secret Service spent $12,000 just renting their own ski equipment in order to keep up with the family on the powdery slopes.

WATCH: Trump’s Road To The White House

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In the most recent trip, Eric headed to Dublin this week. According to CBS television, the Secret Service spent $4,030 for limousines and $11,261 for hotel rooms.

The agency has had to beef up the number of agents assigned to the president and his family by 40 percent, according to The New York Times. 

“They are flat-out worn out,” Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Republican chairman of the House government oversight committee, told the Times.

Mar-a-Lago vs. Camp David 

The Secret Service is asking for an extra $60 million for the coming year for the extra cost of protecting the Trumps, The Washington Post reported.

That will go towards things like renting their own work space in Trump Tower, and renting golf carts to use for patrols whenever Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago – which so far has meant most weekends.

In this April 3, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida (AAP)AAP

Trump’s country club in Palm Beach, built in the 1920s, is a security nightmare, sandwiched between the ocean and an inlet, serviced by one road that frequently gets jammed with traffic. 

That means a larger Secret Service detachment, bolstered by the local police, and Coast Guard patrols offshore on both sides.

“The major challenge is the size of the complex,” said Reese. “It was not built to the standards that are used to protect” presidents.

But Trump prefers that to the traditional presidential getaway, isolated Camp David in the Catoctin Mountains of northern Maryland, a short helicopter hop from the White House.

“The presidential retreat in Camp David is remote and much easier to defend than a publicly accessible facility in the heart of Palm Beach,” said Douglas Smith, former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

The government has not revealed how much all this is costing, but it is certainly considerable. One trip to Palm Beach in 2013 by Obama cost $3 million.

But Reese counsels against comparisons. The budget “is always changing and the Secret Service must be fluid and flexible with a president who is rewriting the rules day to day,” he said.

More than 2,000 migrants rescued from Mediterranean Sea

More than 2,000 migrants trying to reach Europe have been plucked from the Mediterranean in a series of dramatic rescues and one person was found dead, officials and witnesses said.

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An Italian coast guard spokesman said 19 rescue operations on Friday by the coast guard or ships operated by non-governmental organisations had saved a total of 2,074 migrants on 16 rubber dinghies and three small wooden boats.

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The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in a tweet that one teenager was found dead in a rubber boat whose passengers were rescued by its ship Aquarius.

“The sea continues to be a graveyard,” MSF said in a tweet.

The coast guard spokesman confirmed that one person had died but gave no details.

MSF said two of their ships, Aquarius and Prudence, had rescued about 1,000 people in nine boats.

Desperate refugees struggled to stay afloat after they slid off their rubber boat during a rescue operation by the Phoenix, a ship of the rescue group Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).

Video footage showed rescuers jumping into the water off the coast of Libya to help them.

More than 2,000 migrants have been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea.AP

“In 19 years of covering the migration story, I have never experienced anything like today,” said Reuters photographer Darrin Zammit Lupi, who was aboard the Phoenix.

In one operation, the Phoenix rescued 134 people, all from sub-Saharan counties, he said.

Those rescued by the MOAS and MSF ships were transferred to Italian coast guard ships, which had rescued other migrants, to be taken to Italian ports.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, nearly 32,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year. More than 650 have died or are missing.

Watch: Migrant ‘shame’ in Pope’s Easter message

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Egyptian Copts celebrate Easter mass despite attacks

Egyptian Copts are celebrating Easter mass, marking one of Christianity’s most joyous occasions just days after the deadliest attacks in living memory against the country’s religious minority.

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The faithful have been forced to spend a large part of Easter going through arduous security checks outside places of worship, after twin Palm Sunday bombings killed 45 people in two cities north of Cairo. 

The government has declared a state of emergency and called in the army to protect “vital” installations following the suicide bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, which were claimed by the Islamic State group.

“Security has indeed improved so much as it seems the situation needed to be tightened up a lot,” said Coptic Church spokesman Boulos Halim.

Watch: Coptic church in Egypt bombed

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Coptic Pope Tawadros II led Easter mass in Cairo’s Saint Mark’s Cathedral, while the church said celebrations this year would be scaled back.

“Tanta and Alexandria created a big shock, for all of Egypt,” Halim said.

Easter, which along with Christmas is one of Christianity’s most important events, marks the resurrection of Christ three days after followers believe he was crucified.

In Egypt, Copts break a 55-day fast abstaining from all animal products following Saturday’s mass.

The Sunday bombings were the latest in a series of attacks against Egypt’s Copts, which make up around 10 percent of the population. 

In December, an IS suicide bomber struck a Cairo church, killing 29 people.

Halim said the church will forgo Sunday morning’s traditional celebrations, and instead members will visit the families of “martyrs” as well as those wounded in the blasts, including police officers.

“Even if we are in pain over them parting their bodies… the happiness of resurrection helps us overcome feelings of pain,” said Halim.

Further attacks feared

IS, which has waged an insurgency in the north of the Sinai Peninsula that has seen scores of attacks on security forces, has issued repeated calls for atrocities against Copts.

One Copt who gave his name only as John said he will attend Easter mass despite the heightened security risk.

He plans to go to a church in the relative safety of the capital, but admitted “if I were somewhere else outside of Cairo, like a village, I would not want my relatives to go and I would be worried about attending”.

Watch: State of emergency declared in Egypt after bombings

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In a village south of Cairo, some Christians were reportedly prevented from holding Good Friday prayers, and police deployed to prevent further unrest.

Christians in Koum el-Loufy were attacked by Muslims after they tried to pray in an abandoned home on Thursday, after which a mob set fire to four homes nearby, according to police officials.

While the village boasts several mosques, Christians there have been prevented from building a church, Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights told AFP.

“Probably they won’t be able to pray on Saturday either,” said Ibrahim.

“There is a general climate where Copts are being persecuted and unfortunately the state just tries to stop violence from spreading, they don’t solve the root cause of the problem.”

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Bairstow leads England to rout of South Africa

South Africa chose to bat and laboured to 142 for three before Bairstow and Alex Hales shared a superb unbroken second-wicket partnership of 98 to guide the hosts to their target with 5.

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3 overs to spare.

“I’m trying to progress all the time and I played a few shots I didn’t have a few months ago,” said man of the match Bairstow.

“I’m feeling good, I was really pleased. The lads bowled outstandingly well, to take wickets up front is what we wanted and then our spinners tied them down.”

David Willey bowled JJ Smuts with the first ball of the match and South Africa quickly subsided to 32 for three.

Captain AB de Villiers (65 not out) and Farhaan Behardien (64 not out) shared an unbroken stand of 110 but they never broke free from the shackles imposed by a disciplined England attack and the total always looked below-par.

England openers Jason Roy and Hales plundered 45 off the first four overs before Roy, playing a risky reverse sweep, was trapped lbw by Andile Phehlukwayo for 28.

But Hales (47 not out) and Bairstow looked completely untroubled by a toothless South Africa attack, hitting four sixes and nine fours between them to cruise to their target.

Both teams were playing their first matches since the Champions Trophy in which hosts England lost to Pakistan in the semi-finals and top-ranked South Africa failed to advance from the group stage.

“It is difficult to sum up the performance. The result doesn’t look good for us. We lost our way at the start, had to rebuild and we were 20-30 runs short in the end, which probably cost us,” De Villiers said.

The second game of the three-match series is in Taunton on Friday.

(Reporting by Ed Osmond; Editing by Toby Davis)

Bairstow leads England to rout of Proteas

Jonny Bairstow struck a sublime unbeaten 60 to lead England to a dominant nine-wicket victory over South Africa in the first Twenty20 international in Southampton.

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South Africa chose to bat and laboured to 3-142 before Bairstow and Alex Hales shared a superb unbroken second-wicket partnership of 98 to guide the hosts to their target with 5.3 overs to spare.

“I’m trying to progress all the time and I played a few shots I didn’t have a few months ago,” man of the match Bairstow said.

“I’m feeling good, I was really pleased. The lads bowled outstandingly well, to take wickets up front is what we wanted and then our spinners tied them down.”

David Willey bowled JJ Smuts with the first ball of the match and South Africa quickly subsided to 3-32.

Captain AB de Villiers (65 not out) and Farhaan Behardien (64 not out) shared an unbroken stand of 110 but they never broke free from the shackles imposed by a disciplined England attack and the total always looked below-par.

England openers Jason Roy and Hales plundered 45 off the first four overs before Roy, playing a risky reverse sweep, was trapped lbw by Andile Phehlukwayo for 28.

But Hales (47 not out) and Bairstow looked completely untroubled by a toothless South Africa attack, hitting four sixes and nine fours between them to cruise to their target.

Both teams were playing their first matches since the Champions Trophy in which hosts England lost to Pakistan in the semi-finals and top-ranked South Africa failed to advance from the group stage.

“It is difficult to sum up the performance,” De Villiers said. “The result doesn’t look good for us.

“We lost our way at the start, had to rebuild and we were 20-30 runs short in the end, which probably cost us.”

The second game of the three-match series is in Taunton on Friday.

Uber says embattled CEO Travis Kalanick is stepping down

Kalanick had already been on a leave of absence aimed at restoring confidence in the scandal-plagued ridesharing giant.

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The New York Times reported earlier Wednesday that five of the company’s major investors had demanded his departure.

“I can confirm Travis has resigned,” the spokesman told AFP in an email.

He also quoted from a board statement saying that “Travis has always put Uber first”.

“This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber,” the board said.

The pioneering company has been facing pressure to rein in a no-holds-barred management style led by Kalanick and to reform its workplace culture, which has sparked charges of harassment and discrimination.

Kalanick is to stay on as a board member, Uber said.

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The investors, who made their demand in a letter, include one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, the New York Times said.

In the letter, titled “Moving Uber Forward”, the investors told Kalanick that he must immediately leave and that the company needed a change in leadership, the Times reported.

Kalanick consulted with at least one Uber board member and after long discussions with some of the investors, he agreed to step down, the paper said.

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“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Kalanick said in a statement, quoted by the Times and confirmed by Uber.

Last week, Kalanick said one of the reasons for taking a leave of absence was the recent death of his mother.

Uber, which is the world’s richest venture-backed startup valued at some $68 billion, operates in dozens of countries despite problems with regulators in many jurisdictions and protests from established taxi operators.

Kalanick had been seen as the driving force behind Uber despite a series of embarrassing missteps.

0:00 Angry taxi drivers take to London streets protesting Uber Share Angry taxi drivers take to London streets protesting Uber

Portugal fires: Debate reopened over cause of deadly blaze

Politicians added their voice to those of local people who have questioned the handling of the disaster by the emergency services, as the funerals of the 64 killed took place.

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The president of the League of Firefighters, Jaime Marta Soares, said Wednesday he believed that arson had caused the fire, contradicting an earlier account by police.

On Sunday, police chief Almeida Rodrigues had ruled out arson, blaming dry thunderstorms for the blaze after saying they had found a tree hit by lightning.

But Marta Soares told local news media the fire had already been burning for two hours before the storm started Saturday.

“I believe, until there is evidence to the contrary, … that the fire was of criminal origin,” he added.

“The country needs clear answers to legitimate doubts,” said the president of the parliament Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, reacting to the claims.

He was addressing lawmakers during a special parliamentary session in memory of the victims of the fire, which has injured more than 200 people.

Questions also remain over how so many people could have died, most of them perishing on a single road that locals say should have been sealed off by first responders.

Early Wednesday, firefighting planes flew sorties over the smouldering forest canopy in the central Pedrogao Grande region, dropping water to bring the blaze there “under control” late afternoon, regional civil protection head Vitor vaz Pinto said.

By the evening, firefighters — 1,500 were mobilised in all — and firefighting planes were concentrating on fires in the area around Pampilhosa.

The blaze had appeared to be under control on Tuesday, only for it suddenly to flare again, forcing authorities to evacuate 40 hamlets near the village of Gois, not far from Pampilhosa.

Officials expressed concern that some residents were refusing to leave homes threatened by the flames.

Related readingQuestions, anger mount 

In the tiny village of Alcafaz, near Gois, local people said they had stayed on to fight the fire.

“They told us the fire service would come but they never arrived,” said Jose Antonio Gomes, 55, columns of smoke still rising in the hills around the village.

At another hamlet, Candosa, 33-year-old Sergio said he had worked “all day and all night without anyone coming” to help as residents themselves put all hands to the pump.

He says no one came to evacuate them, and locals had to drive the elderly to safety.

As he stood there with others, columns of smoke and flames were appearing over the top of the hill in front of the village. This time though, firefighters were on hand.

Related readingMinute’s silence 

Many of those who perished were caught in their cars as they tried to flee the blaze, most of them on the N236, now dubbed the “road of death” by local media.

“My nephew died, a fireman” said Joaquim Serra da Fonseca, 68. As news of the fire spread on Saturday, his 40-year-old nephew and several colleagues rushed down the road to help.

Faced with the fury of the fire, they turned back but in the thick smoke, they apparently crashed into a car full of people, Serra da Fonseca said.

They were caught by the flames as they tried to help the passengers.

Serra da Fonseca wondered why they were allowed to take the road when police knew that a fire was raging in the area.

Martyrs

Prime Minister Antonio Costa has also asked why the N236 had not been closed to traffic. He has also called for answers as to why the emergency services communications network was interrupted.

Press reports suggested Portugal’s fire plan had not been revised for four years and that the intense heat might have made some communication antennae malfunction.

As anger mounted among the relatives of those killed, the daily Publico reported that civil protection personnel and back-up fire crews only reached the fire site two hours after the first emergency calls. 

Costa has called for “immediate explanations” from authorities, but insisted that there was “no evidence” of any rapid response failure.

The first funerals began late Tuesday not far from the still-burning forest.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa attended the funeral of a firefighter in the village of Castanheira de Pera along with several other politicians and hundreds of locals.

A large crowd earlier had gathered in the tiny hamlet of Sarzedas de San Pedro to bury six victims. 

The front page of the Correo da Manha showed images of tearful relatives next to pictures of some of those killed alongside a headline that read simply: “Martyrs”.

Medical cannabis: who has access?

IS MEDICAL CANNABIS LEGAL IN AUSTRALIA?

Yes, medical cannabis is now a controlled substance rather than a prohibited one under the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA)

It was rescheduled from Schedule 9 (prohibited substance) to Scheduled 8 (controlled substance)

The federal government approved the reclassification, which came into effect in October 2016

This gave doctors a pathway to prescribe to patients

CAN PATIENTS ACCESS MEDICAL CANNABIS?

Yes, but it is reasonably difficult

Medical cannabis is not approved by the TGA as a registered good, therefore there is a lot of paperwork to apply for access

If patients are looking to access medical cannabis they must use other pathways such as the Special Access Scheme

States and territories can independently make access available to specific types of patients

Doctors also have to apply to become an authorised prescriber

To date, fewer than 150 people in Australia have been given access to medicinal cannabis

WHO CAN APPLY FOR MEDICAL CANNABIS?

The TGA doesn’t specify which illnesses might be eligible for special access to medicinal cannabis

Doctors need to be able to show the drug would be of benefit for a patient

THE EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF MEDICAL CANNABIS

Most agree that the evidence is still not in on medical cannabis

Very few randomised double blind placebo control studies – the gold standard in medicine – have been conducted to test the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis

There is a body of evidence around the world that suggests it can benefit numerous conditions.

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These include:

* Epilepsy

* Multiple sclerosis

* Chronic neuropathic pain

* Nausea from cancer-related chemotherapy

* Parkinson’s disease

Hamilton backs Button to replace Alonso in Monaco

McLaren have yet to say who will be the stand-in, but 2009 world champion Button — the last driver to win a race for the team back in 2012 — is already looking like the clear frontrunner.

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“Why do I have so many missed calls?,” Button, 37, joked on Twitter as speculation mounted about a comeback after McLaren’s surprise announcement that Alonso will skip the season’s showcase event and race in America on the same day.

Triple world champion Hamilton, who joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013 and is currently leading the championship with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, said his former team mate and fellow Monaco resident was the obvious choice.

“I hope Jenson comes back, I think it would be great for the sport to have Jenson back in,” he told reporters.

“I like Jenson and he is still one of the best drivers and his calibre and experience is way ahead of the other drivers able to take that spot for sure.”

Button handed over his McLaren seat to Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne at the end of last season but the Honda-powered team retained an option on his services for 2018 and as a potential stand-in this season.

The Briton made clear last November that he was not expecting to return — and it is not clear whether he would be willing to do so now — but he has kept fit competing in triathlons and training in California.

Button won the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix from pole position, one of his 15 career victories, and was also on the podium in 2004 and 2011. He has 305 races under his belt.

McLaren’s executive director Zak Brown said on Wednesday there was no replacement in place for Alonso but a decision would be taken soon.

“We have a few different options, we will state who that is when we know,” the American said.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Ian Chadband)

Holmes on Cleary bomb watch at Penrith

Cronulla fullback Valentine Holmes has spent a week watching Nathan Cleary’s high-floating bombs.

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Now he just has to catch them come Easter Sunday at Pepper Stadium.

Cleary wreaked havoc last week for Penrith against South Sydney, almost guiding the Panthers to a come-from-behind win off his own boot.

He had former under-20s teammate Braidon Burns in a real panic, and regularly forced errors at the wrong end for the Rabbitohs.

“That’s the first thing we looked at is his floaters,” Holmes said.

“He’s the one that does most the kicking. I will just be watching him most the game and see where he goes.”

Holmes is now just three games into his full-time shift to fullback, and he admits he is still learning on the run.

He was thrust into the role earlier than expected following Ben Barba’s summer departure, but a bad hamstring ruled him out of two trials and the opening rounds.

He has since worked hard with Sharks assistant and former St George Illawarra coach Steve Price, and is starting to get a feel for the position in the NRL.

“It’s a lot harder than when I was playing in the juniors,” Holmes said.

“It’s a bit more physical and a lot more demanding with the forwards when you’re on the defensive lines.”

It hasn’t shown in his performances though.

Despite his try-scoring rate from last year on the wing going down, Holmes is getting through more work than Barba did last season and is just as potent in attack.

“I feel like I’m getting better,” he said.

“I probably wouldn’t say I’m at my peak yet. It’s a long season, it’s only round seven this week.

“I want to try and get to it soon though.

“I still haven’t really done much out the back in good ball areas. I want to try and open up in those areas and be really dominant there.”

Weekend sport preview

Tonight’s A-League game sees the Melbourne Victory up against the Central Coast Mariners.

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Victory is already assured a home semi-final, but hasn’t won a match in its last three starts.

Victory coach Kevin Muscat wants to hit form, especially after the home defeat to Wellington Phoenix in round 25.

“We want to perform well. Obviously after that there’s a weekend off so this is the last opportunity before it gets to sudden death. We certainly owe our members and fans at least a performance because the last one was nowhere near good enough here.”

And that game will be on SBS Viceland tonight from 7.30 in the East.

On Saturday afternoon Sydney FC meets the Newcastle Jets having already wrapped up the Premiers Plate.

The team will receive the trophy after the match.

Sydney won’t have to play in the first round of finals action as the teams ranked 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th battle it out for the right to meet the top two.

The format of the finals series is something Sydney FC Coach Graham Arnold has had to explain to some of his foreign players such as Brazilian import Bobo and Dutch defender Jordi Buijs.

“Bobo didn’t understand the Australian way, and Jordi. They thought everything was around obviously first past the post is the champion. But we’ve had to explain we need to keep going. Finals weeks are big here in Australia, so it’s getting them to understand that as well.”

The AFL this weekend takes place in the aftermath of the Eddie Betts racism storm.

The sport has tried to deal with several instances of fan abuse aimed at Indigenous players in recent years but last weekend Adelaide’s Betts was targeted in an online attack by a women who labelled him an ‘ape’.

She’s since been charged by police but, despite that, Betts told Adelaide Radio station 5AA the issue isn’t simply wrecking his enjoyment of the sport.

“It affects me but it affects people around me more, you know: my wife, our kids are Indigenous and they’ll have to grow up with this stuff as well. Enough is enough, you know, they’ve got fighting on the hill, it’s not kid-friendly, there’s kids on the hill watching that and there’s people yelling racist abuse; it’s just not a good place to be.”

Adelaide takes on Essendon on Saturday evening.

North Melbourne takes on the reigning Premier Western Bulldogs.

In the National Rugby League tonight, the Newcastle Knights and Roosters play in the early evening fixture, while there’s a Queesland derby when the Brisbane Broncos take on the Gold Coast Titans.

This week the NRL confirmed it will aim to stamp out slapping in the game.

Referees have been instructed to issue players with 10 minutes in the sin-bin if they are guilty of slapping an opponent.

Titans coach Neil Henry is in full agreement with the move.

“I think it’s about time that they did something because it was getting a bit ridiculous about what you could hold a shirt and slap someone or sort of nearly punch them. I mean it’s not a good look, so we’ll see how they police it.”

The Easter Monday match sees the Parramatta Eels take on the Tigers at 4pm.

This weekend’s Super Rugby action has been overshadowed somewhat by the decision to cull an Australian team and two South African franchises from next season, as part of a cost-cutting measure.

The Melbourne Rebels are one of the two Australian teams facing the axe, and they play the ACT Brumbies on Saturday night.

The other side in the firing line is the Western Force, which has a bye this weekend.

In Formula One this weekend British driver Lewis Hamilton will look to make it two wins from two Grand Prix in the early hours on Monday morning.

The Mercedes driver is locked at the top of the drivers’ standings with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on 43 points each.

The Netball season has reached the halfway point and so far the return to an all-Australian competition has been seen as a success.

Of the 28 matches played almost half have been decided by five goals or less.

The teams are enjoying a mid-season bye-round over the Easter weekend.

The Greater Western Sydney Giants are on top of the ladder after the first 8 rounds.

The league returns on April 22.

 

Man dragged off United flight plans to sue: lawyers

The man dragged off a United Airlines flight, sparking an international uproar, suffered a broken nose and concussion, his lawyer said Thursday, adding that he is planning to sue.

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David Dao was released from the hospital overnight and was at a “secure location,” attorney Thomas Demetrio said at a news conference during which a member of Dao’s family spoke out for the first time.   

United remained under a spotlight Thursday as representatives of the carrier faced tough questioning at a city council hearing in Chicago, where the airline is headquartered and where the incident occurred. 

Dao’s lawyers filed a petition in court requesting that the city, which operates O’Hare International Airport, and United Airlines preserve evidence related to the incident on Sunday. They also said a lawsuit was forthcoming. 

“This lawsuit, among other things, hopefully, will create a not just national discussion, but international discussion, on how we’re going to be treated going forward,” Demetrio said. 

“For a long time, airlines, United in particular, have bullied us.”

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Online video of airport security officers dragging Dao off a packed flight Sunday sparked worldwide outrage. He screamed as officers pulled him from his seat, and was bloodied by the altercation. 

The 69-year-old doctor’s lawyers said he also suffered injury to his sinuses and lost two front teeth. 

“My dad is healing right now,” said Crystal Dao Pepper, 33, one of Dao’s five children.  

“We were completely horrified and shocked at what had happened to my father,” she said.  

In response, United Airlines released a statement reiterating its apology. 

“We continue to express our sincerest apology to Dr. Dao. We cannot stress enough that we remain steadfast in our commitment to make this right,” the statement said. 

The airline added that it would no longer ask law enforcement to remove a passenger from a flight unless it is a matter of safety and security.  

The statement did not quell criticism of United, especially since its apologies came days after the incident — and after initial statements appeared to at least in part blame Dao.

At a sometimes tense hearing Thursday at Chicago’s city hall, officials from United Airlines and O’Hare airport said they are conducting investigations to determine what went wrong with their procedures. 

United said it will release the results of its review on April 30.  

“We commit to you that this type of situation will never happen again aboard our aircraft,” Margaret Smith, United’s head of corporate affairs, said at the hearing.

Asked why United took days to apologize, Smith said the airline made a mistake. 

“We took too long to say anything, and our statement – when it first came out – did not show the depth of our concern and regret,” Smith said. 

“We should have handled it quicker, and we should have been better at expressing how that is something that we just do not want ever to happen again at United.”

Lawmakers in Congress have also signaled potential action. 

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois said she would author a bill to end the practice of airlines denying boarding to passengers on overbooked flights. A group of 21 senators also said they planned to examine the incident.

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Allies will help combat North Korea: Trump

Australia could be drawn into hostilities with North Korea, with US President Donald Trump announcing via Twitter if China is unable to deal with the rogue nation “the US, with its allies, will”.

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Mr Trump has publicly ramped up pressure on China to use its influence to curtail North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear and missile program.

North Korea has responded by threatening nuclear strikes on the US.

Mr Trump’s latest tweets also come as the USS Carl Vinson Nimitz-class aircraft carrier-led strike group of warships heads to the Korean Peninsula and two days before US Vice President Mike Pence sets off on a tour of Australia, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia where North Korea will be on the agenda.

“I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea,” Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday.

“If they are unable to do so, the US, with its allies, will!”

Mr Trump’s inclusion of “allies” differs from a tweet he sent out on Tuesday.

“North Korea is looking for trouble,” Mr Trump wrote.

“If China decides to help, that would be great.

“If not, we will solve the problem without them!”

Last week’s meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida has soothed previously strained Chinese and American relations.

China on Wednesday surprisingly did not join Russia in vetoing a US-backed United Nations Security Council draft resolution denouncing the gas attack on the citizens of the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Since the Syrian civil war began, China has vetoed six resolutions on Syria.

On Thursday Mr Trump told reporters China “has already started” asserting its influence on North Korea by turning back North Korean coal boats.

North Korean coal exports to China are vital for the already struggling regime’s economy.

“The vast amount of coal that comes out of North Korea going to China, they’ve turned back the boats,” Mr Trump told the joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

“That’s a big step, and they have many other steps that I know about.

“So we’ll see what happens.

“It may be effective, it may not be effective.

“If it’s not effective, we will be effective, I can promise you that.”