Buckley denies power play dividing Magpies

Dane Swan and Ben Johnson. Heath Shaw and Dane Swan at Collingwood training. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
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Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has praised his senior players and denied the so-called Brat Pack is involved in a power play, declaring his entire list understands there are “non-negotiables” to abide by.

There have been suggestions, including from former Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd, of a divide between the senior players, including premiership stars Heath Shaw, Dane Swan, Ben Johnson and Alan Didak, and Buckley this season, as the Magpies seek to tighten on and off-field disciplines.

“I don’t think there is enough credit given to those (senior) players. They have been successful performers over a long period of time. They are great footballers, they are great team men, they want to be part of a successful environment,” Buckley said.

“I think the supposition that they are on one road and the rest of the club is on another is totally false. It’s not fair on them.”

Several issues have attracted attention to Collingwood this season. Heath Shaw was recently dumped because of his poor skinfolds, Swan commented during a television interview after the win over Brisbane that he should always be used in the midfield, while Dale Thomas was unhappy at Darren Jolly’s criticism of former teammate Josh Fraser in a Fairfax Media column.

Scott Pendlebury claimed some teammates had “cheated” on the field by running too far ahead of the ball, and said players had been given more latitude in terms of behaviour under former coach Mick Malthouse. More seriously, Harry O’Brien took president Eddie McGuire to task publicly over a racial controversy.

The Magpies have employed Leading Teams to help forge a new culture, although this was questioned on radio over the weekend by their premiership skipper Tony Shaw.

Lloyd last week said Buckley was winning the battle with his senior players.

“I reckon there’s a bit of a power struggle going on. I reckon Buckley’s winning it,” he said.

“Bucks is trying to change things at Collingwood.

“He’s made a statement on Heath Shaw and he pushed, I reckon, Dane Swan forward because he wasn’t defending well enough in those losses.

“Swanny got back into the midfield and was probably running a bit harder both ways (against Brisbane).

“Bucks is getting what he wants, but I reckon there’s a bit of a fight on at the moment.”

Leading Teams is also being employed at Sydney and Fremantle this year. Others are split on its value.

“It’s not designed to create tension. It’s designed to elicit the very best performance of the team on game day under the heat of battle. It’s a tool that has been excellent for us. It’s in its very early stages. It’s something we will continue to build on,” Buckley said.

“It’s an empowerment model. It gives the players ownership of their destiny and the way they want to go about their football and the values they expect to adhere to and perform under.

“I think what it’s done at this early stage is give our young players in particular a very clear road map of how they are going to get the best out of their opportunity at the footy club.

“We have seen some great development and great debuts and early stages of careers from our young players.

He said the program makes the team’s “non-negotiables” clear to players.

“It makes it a black and white blueprint, this is how we are going to be successful, let’s work towards this. It’s simply a plan.”

Buckley said small forward Andrew Krakouer, who has had time off for personal reasons, would play in the VFL this weekend.

He also remained confident the injured Dale Thomas would agree to a new contract.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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GALLERY: Istanbul riots

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES
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Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd during a demonstration near Taksim Square on June 11. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

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Will The Following’s killer nanny survive?

Endearing? Serial killing nanny Emma Hill, played by Valorie Curry, on The Following.In part one of our exclusive interview with The Following’s Valorie Curry ahead of the season finale on Wednesday night, she recounts her final day on set and the arguments she has had with fans over why she’s not a moustache-twirling villain.
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Her character Emma Hill has been the surprise package of The Following. Impossible to safely pin down ever since the pilot episode in which she provided the final twist as the nanny who made off with her ward. She has proven since to be a clinical killer, dangerous lover and ruthlessly enthusiastic follower. Actress Valorie Currey, who plays Hill, has been an equally impressive revelation.

In our last glimpse of Hill – at the climax of last Wednesday’s penultimate episode – she had just executed a very simple solution to the second love triangle that she has found herself in, with emphasis on executed.

“I wrapped in early March, but ironically because of sequencing, the last scene I shot for the series was the scene in episode 14, where Emma killed Jacob. So that’s how I went out, which was intense,” says Curry.

“I was happy to go out on that scene but it also made me happy to leave Emma as a character behind. It was incredibly intense. Nico [Tortorella, who plays Jacob] and I are very good friends and having to say goodbye to him as someone I’d worked with for seven months and also as a character saying goodbye to someone she loves, it was all mixed up together and was very emotional.”

In fact, thanks to the habit of television to capture scenes from multiple angles, Curry was able to bid Tortorella a cut-throat farewell over and over again.

“I had to do it many times,” she recalls. “But the first take was actually the take with all of the blood and the prosthetics so we started from the highest pitch. I remember when I cut his throat in that first take the blood sprayed out there was a pump attached to it and it sprayed my face. I jumped out of the car as soon as they yelled ‘cut’ and said I want to go home! It was so intense but for me that’s fantastic because I can use that in every take afterwards.”

Some shows, like The Walking Dead have developed on-set rituals to mark the death of a character, however Nico Tortorella was dispatched with no further ceremony.

“We didn’t really have a ritual,” Curry admits. “With the number of people we killed off on this show, if we had a ritual we’d never get any work done. There were too many deaths on this show!”

The rising death count in the plot by necessity means fewer and fewer characters remain. In fact, you could be forgiven for believing Wednesday nights finale will be a three-hander between Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, and Curry. Yet it is not Hill’s survival that makes Curry feel so lucky.

“I feel like I won the lotto with this character because she is whoever she needs to be in the moment, which means I feel like I play someone different from one moment to the next,” Curry explains. “She relates to everyone so differently. She has the ability to be vulnerable emotionally and connect to people emotionally, whether that’s real or not or manipulative or not. I think that as an actress I get to have great scenes with everyone.”

She certainly hasn’t won the lottery in public opinion, with even customs officials staring at her strangely when they recognise her as the serial killer nanny.

“People on the street are pretty horrified by what I did,” Curry says with a laugh, admitting she finds herself defending Hill on “the subway, the coffee shop, the department store, everywhere”.

“There are definitely fewer people who are sympathetic, but I always appreciate those people because I find myself defending Emma constantly. The one thing people always say to me is ‘you are the most evil character,’ which I could argue about all day long.

“It’s pretty easy to convince them, but it never changes their emotional reaction to her. They will admit she’s not as bad as other characters on the show, but they still just hate her. I don’t know what that comes down to. She seems so sweet that people dislike having their expectations subverted.”

Curry has one other theory as to why “other really blood thirsty characters” don’t receive such fan enmity. “[The character of] Paul for instance, is in the beautiful package of Adan Canto. His ass covers for all manner of things.”

While they say only a mother could love some people, it takes the actor playing the nanny to cherish the character of Emma Hill; although Curry has encountered plenty of fans who see past the violence. “I appreciate when people can see her brokenness or her vulnerability because that’s something as an actor I definitely try to bring to the character: humanity and not just this moustache-twisting villain.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Dust-up looms over amended coal report

The findings of the Particulate Emissions from Coal Trains environment report were reversed when the report went public, according to a local activist group and the Greens. Photo: Matthew KellyAn environment study into the effects of dust from coal trains has apparently been doctored, with the federal and NSW government misled – perhaps willingly, according to a local activist group and the Greens.
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The Particulate Emissions from Coal Trains report for the nationally owned Australian Rail Track Corporation had 15 of its 18 conclusions changed between the submission of the draft version dated May 24 and the version made public seven days later, said James Whelan, chair of the dust and health committee of the Coal Terminal Action Group.

The leaked draft version of the ARTC report found air pollution levels were high when loaded and unloaded coal rail wagons passed a monitoring station compared with when there was no rail traffic.

The public version of the report, though, reversed those findings and just a day later the NSW government had accepted the revised report and based policy on it, Dr Whelan said.

“The chair of the EPA Barry Buffier would appear to have been very gullible and perhaps hasty to make policy announcements on the back of a report that quite clearly contradicted a version of the report he had received six days previously,” Dr Whelan said.

The NSW EPA has been contacted for comment.

The ARTC is seeking to double the number of coal trains through the Hunter Valley and Newcastle to feed a proposed fourth coal export terminal at the port city. The activist group says 30,000 residents live within half a kilometre of the coal rail corridor and will face heightened health risks from additional trains.

The group has written to the NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and two of his ministers to call for a Special Commission of Inquiry to identify how the draft report, compiled by Katestone consultants, came to be amended to produce opposite findings in three instances.

“By deleting or inserting the word ‘no’ or ‘not’, a very different picture of the impacts of coal trains on air quality in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter is reached,” the group said in a statement. “Other conclusions were modified to significantly downplay the pollution levels associated with coal trains, and the released report saw three new conclusions added and one deleted.”

Said Dr Whelan: “At least one of the versions of this report suggests that the concentrations of those particles will significantly increase.

“It’s either ARTC, or Katestone [who made the changes]…The question is who made the instructions or instructed them to?”

Greens push

The Greens have also been pressing the federal government for answers, with transport spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon calling on Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to reveal any involvement by his department and the ARTC in altering the findings of this report .

“Minister Albanese needs to explain why the [ARTC] publicly released a report that appears to have falsified results,” Senator Rhiannon said in a statement.

“The altered report fits hand-in-hand with the coal industry’s strategy to downplay the health impacts of the mining and transport of coal.”

Senator Rhiannon plans to move a motion in the Senate when parliament resumes next week for Mr Albanese to release all documents related to the drafting of this report.

“It’s a very serious public health,” Dr Whelan said. “It’s a matter of national significance.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Asia’s ticking time bonds

Efforts to make the global financial system safer could be making Asia more – not less – vulnerable to any credit market shocks, leaving bond traders worried that a sharp selloff since late May could turn into a rout.
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Low global interest rates have made it easier than ever to sell new bonds denominated in US dollars, euros or yen, resulting in a boom in issuance that has made Asia and its companies ever more dependent on debt.

But the market for trading those bonds is slowly drying up, leaving it susceptible to a sharper selloff if holders of these so-called G3 bonds decide it is time to head for the exit.

“The issue is that if any of them choose to sell their holdings, the market may not have the capacity to absorb these flows. If we reach a stage like that then liquidity could dry up very quickly and that can have a spiralling effect,” said Dhimant Shah, a fund manager at Mackenzie Investments in Singapore.

Bond markets in Asia have generally trended higher since the Lehman crisis during the global financial crisis in 2008, partly aided by the flood of cash from Western central banks aimed at reviving their economies. By one measure, a JP Morgan basket of credit, the debt market hit its highest level in May since the global financial crisis.

In the last month though, bonds have stumbled on jitters over when the US Federal Reserve will start to unwind its stimulus programme. Yields, which move inversely to prices, on the debt tracked by the JP Morgan basket have jumped in the past month more than 60 basis points, largely in the past two weeks. The yield on Indonesian government bonds due in 2020 have risen even faster, nearly 100 basis points in the past month.

Asia’s low market liquidity could create a more explosive selloff in which a lack of trading creates a price vacuum, leading to sharper price declines as investors scramble to sell assets for cash, a scenario similar to the dark days of the Lehman crisis.

“I don’t recall in recent memory bonds falling so quickly without a tail-risk event as they did in the last month,” said Richard Cohen, head of credit trading in the Asia Pacific for Credit Suisse. Tail-risk refers to a sudden event that has a major impact on financial markets.

Powerful factors

Unlike equity and currency markets, there is no central repository for information on bond volumes. But dealers said volumes have fallen sharply as the market has sold off, although more generally liquidity has also been sliding in the past year as the result of some powerful factors.

Regulations under new Basel III capital requirements and the Dodd-Frank legislation in the United States are forcing Western banks to cut global operations, trim, or even eliminate their own bond trading operations and to cut Asian bond portfolios to reduce risk.

For example, fund manager Shah, 41, left JPMorgan Chase & Co in Singapore as head of proprietary trading last year, one of many traders who left banks as the stricter capital requirements made it tougher for them to conduct proprietary trading.

At the same time, Asian banks have not developed the expertise or the risk-appetite to fill the void.

In addition, the same low interest rates that make it easy to sell new bonds are making older bonds more attractive to hold rather than trade. The result is a diminishing amount of secondary trading in Asian bonds.

The combination of factors makes it more difficult for sellers, said Hong Kong-based Fredric Teng, a partner at hedge fund Oracle Capital Limited.

“It’s a bit like Tom trying to get out using Jerry’s pet flap. If investors cannot get out we could have crazy knee jerk price actions,” Teng said.

Such a squeeze could have far reaching consequences in Asia given its growing appetite for debt.

The region’s debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 155 per cent in mid-2012 from 133 per cent in 2008, data from McKinsey Global Institute, a unit of consulting firm McKinsey & Co, shows. It is also higher than 1997, when several economies in Asia buckled as capital fled the region.

To be sure, there is no sign of widespread panic in markets. Historically low interest rates, and in some cases a relaxation of regulations governing bond markets, are keeping new issues of bonds at record levels.

G3 bonds issued by Asian borrowers outside Japan hit a record high in 2012 of $US133.8 billion and the momentum has intensified this year. In the first five months of 2013, nearly $US88 billion in G3 debt has been sold, up from $US71 billion in the same period last year.

But the selloff is the first sign that a bull run in bonds of more than four years may be coming to an end as investors anticipate the US Fed easing back on its stimulus pedal. That risk means investors are wary of some areas of the market.

Bull market frothiness

Bonds from single “B” rated China property companies, sovereign issuers such as Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Mongolia and infrequent borrowers that make $US100 million to $US200 million offerings are struggling for buyers. Trading liquidity in these bonds is low anyhow, so during times of market caution, buyers retreat further.

“If you are holding those names good luck trying to sell. Even though things have cheapened up considerably, traders don’t want to hold some of these bonds because there may be no buyers,” said a Hong Kong-based trader at a US bank. He declined to be identified because he is not authorised to speak with the media.

But there is also a flip side.

Bryan Collins, a portfolio manager at Fidelity International, says that while bouts of bond market illiquidity are a risk, they also help to remove some of the frothiness from bull markets.

Ultra-low interest rates have fuelled record issuance of new debt, but they have also helped reduce the risk of debt default as many companies refinanced outstanding debt into longer-dated maturities.

That means that, even if yields on 10-year US Treasuries lurch higher after a 64 basis points rise since early May to 2.26 per cent, it is unlikely to cause panic among cash-rich Asian companies.

And as a rise in interest rates causes a corollary fall in bond prices, some global fund houses, such as T. Rowe Price, are waiting in the wings to buy up beaten-down debt.

Still, T. Rowe is hedging its positions with safe-haven US and German government debt, said Terry Moore, a fixed-income portfolio specialist at the US-based firm.

“So when volatility spikes in the bond market, we have some liquid bonds we can sell to buy less liquid debt,” said Moore, a member of an investment team overseeing more than $US800 billion in assets.

Reuters

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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