Woman arrested over alleged Junee chainsaw, baseball bat attack

A WOMAN has allegedly armed herself with a chainsaw and then later a baseball bat and metal link chain in a bid to assault a 24-year-old Juneeman.
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The 41-year-old woman allegedly approached the back fence of a house on Main Street at 4.50am this morning armed with a chainsaw.

Police say she then attempted to assault the 24-year-old on the other side of the fence.

After leaving the scene for a short period of time, she then returned allegedly armed with a baseball bat and metal link chain and assaulted the man.

He received minor injuries.

Police from Wagga were dispatched to the property where the woman confronted police before being arrested.

She was taken to Junee police station and has beencharged with assault, assault police, armed with intent and a number of other related charges.

Refused bail, she will appear before Wagga Local Court tomorrow.

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Syria peace talks end with little headway but some hope

Geneva: The United Nations wrapped up a week of fraught and largely unproductive peace talks between Syria’s civil war foes on Friday, citing as the biggest achievement the fact that the two sides still were speaking.
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UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said he had little progress to report, but he also said he had detected some beginnings of hope for a solution to the war, which has left more than 100,000 people dead and continues to rage unchecked.

“This is a very modest beginning, but it is a beginning on which we can build,” he said. “I thought I observed a little bit of common ground, perhaps more than the two sides recognised or realised.”

But, he added: “The gap between the sides remains wide. There is no use in pretending otherwise.”

The talks, which began on January 25, focused mainly on the contentious issue of what they are supposed to be about, with the government pressing its view that fighting terrorism should be the priority and the opposition stressing the need to focus on a political transition that would take power away from President Bashar al-Assad.

Mr Brahimi cited as progress the consensus reached by the two sides that future discussions should be based on the Geneva I communique, the blueprint for a solution to the war that Russia and the US agreed to in 2012 and on which the talks were premised. The communique stipulates the need for a comprehensive cease-fire to end the violence as well as providing the outlines for a political transition from Assad’s rule.

For the Syrian government even to agree to discuss the Geneva communique signalled progress, said opposition spokesman Louay Safi, because it had repeatedly declined to do so before the talks.

But members of the government delegation also made it clear they had no intention of offering any significant compromises in future rounds of the talks, which diplomats say could last months.

Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi pledged to a crowd of pro-Assad demonstrators outside the UN headquarters where the talks have been taking place that Damascus would make “no concessions”.

“They will not get through politics what they couldn’t obtain by force,” he said, referring to the rebellion’s failure to topple Dr Assad.

Mr Brahimi set a date of February 10 for the talks to resume, which the opposition immediately accepted.The Syrian government delegation said it would have to return to Damascus and consult Dr Assad before deciding whether to come back, prompting a sharp response from the US State Department.

“The opposition has once again shown a seriousness of purpose in these negotiations by quickly committing to participate in the next round of talks, while the regime continues to play games,” spokesman Edgar Vasquez said. “The people of Syria are watching and will determine who truly has their best interests at heart.”

The break will allow for a flurry of fresh international diplomacy aimed at prodding the talks forward.

Mr Brahimi was to fly to Munich for talks with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The two men will then meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to further discuss the talks. Russia and the United States are the joint sponsors of the peace process, and their pressure was instrumental in persuading their respective allies to attend at all.

A key question now will be whether the Russians are prepared to exert more pressure on Dr Assad’s government to compromise further, diplomats say. In a sign that they will, the president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba, has accepted an invitation to visit Moscow on Monday, continuing a thaw in ties between Dr Assad’s opponents and his chief patron.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, the head of the government delegation, said: “I can tell you there is no Russian pressure on our delegation. There is co-ordination. We respect the opinion of the other side, but at the end of the day, the decision will be Syrian.”

Washington Post

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SEO services subject of many complaints, warns Fair Trading office

Google: Fair Trading has warned about business that promise top billing.NSW Fair Trading is warning businesses not to sign up to firms that guarantee they can get you on to the first page results of search engines such as Google without doing appropriate checks first.
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The warning follows NSW Fair Trading receiving hundreds of complaints and inquiries over the past two years from businesses that have signed expensive contracts with little or no result.

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said complaints about the firms – which practise what is called search engine optimisation, or SEO, on websites – related mainly to unsatisfactory or non-performance of a service, cancellation of the contract or refunds.

“Complaints indicate that packages can cost from several hundred dollars up to more than $4000,” he said. Mr Stowe also said persuasive sales pitches over the phone were “a trap”.

“Don’t agree to any offers over the phone,” he said.

“Business listings on some search engines are free and take very little time to set up.”

It is understood many of the complaints relate to Sydney company Publicity Monster (PM AU), run by former bankrupt and convicted hacker Tim Sabre.

Publicity Monster has been known to cold-call small businesses, pledging to make them appear in Google Places’ top seven search results for chosen keywords, but in many cases doesn’t deliver results and has both harassed and threatened businesses who complain.

In NSW alone, 99 applications have been lodged against Mr Sabre’s Publicity Monster at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, according to the latest figures provided to Fairfax. A further 20 have been lodged against Publicity Monster at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, while another five have been lodged at the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Hundreds of other complaints are understood to have been lodged with NSW Fair Trading, which has the power to investigate Publicity Monster.

“NSW Fair Trading is continuing its investigation of Publicity Monster Pty Ltd and exploring all options available under Fair Trading legislation,” the regulator told Fairfax in a statement.

But it said its investigative powers may be limited because the contracts that businesses had with Publicity Monster were generally “business to business”, and this meant that they may not fall within the scope of the NSW Fair Trading Act 1987 and the Australian Consumer Law.

In his warning, Mr Stowe said businesses entering into contracts, particularly for the purchase of services, should carefully read the contract and the terms and conditions and do their own research about the trader’s ability to deliver what they promise before signing.

He also recommended businesses seek legal advice on contracts before signing them.

Acting NSW Small Business Commissioner Candace Barron said small businesses needed to be wary of offers that sounded too good to be true.

“Small business operators need to be sceptical about grand promises. Even money-back guarantees may not protect you, since unscrupulous operators often disappear,” Ms Barron said.

Under the Australian Consumer Law it is unlawful for a business to make false or misleading representations about goods or services when supplying, offering to supply or promoting those goods or services. Businesses must also not make false or misleading representations about the performance characteristics or benefits of goods or services, the law states.

In response to Fairfax questions, Mr Sabre said he didn’t think NSW Fair Trading’s investigation would find anything against his company.

“I am more than happy to cooperate,” he said.

He disputed the number of applications lodged against Publicity Monster in state tribunals, and said his company had been in contact with any customer who had a dispute with it.

Asked what he thought about Fair Trading’s warning, he said businesses “should always make informed decisions” before signing contracts.

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Woman dies in Stanthorpe 3-car pileup

One woman died, and two people were badly hurt, in a three-vehicle accident which closed the New England highway near Stanthorpe on Saturday.
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The three-car smash happened around 3.15pm on Saturday afternoon, and emergency crews were still working to clear the wreckage as night fell.

A woman died at thhe scene, while two other people were badly hurt in the smash – one was transported to Toowoomba Base hospital, while the other was rushed to Brisbane for emergency treatment.

Meanwhile, police and emergency services were forced to divert traffic around the Bruce Highway near Sarina, after a traffic crash earlier on Saturday afternoon.

Around 12.50pm, police were notified that two cars had collided head-on on the Bruce Highway around 10kms south of Sarina.

Details remain sketchy, but police say there were no fatalities in that accident.


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On this day: Chappell’s historic bowl underarm bowl

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It was the sporting move that infuriated a nation – Trevor Chappell bowled an underarm delivery to stop New Zealand tying with Australia in an one-day international match.

It was on this day – February 1 -in 1981 that the cricketer made history when he found an un-orthodox way to prevent New Zealand batsman Brian McKechnie from hitting a six at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Australian captain, and brother, Greg Chappell reported instructed Chappell to deliver the legal but unpopular move to save the match. A dismayed McKechnie blocked the ball but it was all over – Australia won

Thirty three years on, Chappell’s move is still hailed as a glorious day for Australian cricket but across the Tasman it’s another story – then-Prime Minister Rob Muldoo called it “the most disgusting incident I can recall in the history of cricket”.

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Fridge door – 3/2/14

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Monday night dance

Beginners and people returning to dancing very welcome. Entry $3, please bring a plate of supper to share. From 7.30pm to 9.30pm.Venue: Spring Gully Hall, Spring Gully Road, Bendigo.Contact: Keith and Corrie on 5444 2953.

Al-Anon and Alateen

Weekly meetings of Al-Anon and Alateen, organised by Al-Anon Family Groups, for people affected by someone else’s drinking. Alateen meets at 6.30pm and Al-Anon at 8pm.Venue: DOXA School, 118 Hargreaves Street, Bendigo.Contact: 1300 ALANON. Contact: 5443 4045 Al-Anon/Alateen.

Bendigo Bridge Club

Meets on Monday and Friday afternoons and Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.Beginner sessions are held on Thursdays. Visitors and new members arewelcome.Venues: Long Gully Community Centre (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) and Quarry Hill Croquet Club (Tuesdays).Contact: Peter Goddard on 5439 6273 or email [email protected] or go towww.bendigobridge.org.au

Broadband for Seniors

Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm at Bendigo Neighbourhood House, 21 Neale Street, Kennington.

Conservation Volunteers

Conservation Volunteers invite people with a love of the environment to participate in ourvolunteer teams.

Transport leaves 420 Hargreaves Street (opposite Rivers Store) in Bendigoat 8am Monday to Friday and returns by 4pm.

Volunteers are focusing on flood recovery tohelp repair and build fences, treat problem weeds and other conservation activities.

Contact: Adam on 54440777 or 0427 507 004.

Men’s Shed Bendigo

All welcome Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm, and every second Saturday. Welding shop, woodwork and metalwork projects.Venue: 21 Cuneen Street, Long Gully.Contact: 5443 7613.

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Ken works for the satisfaction

ONE look around the busyGolden Square Pool on a hot day is proof that volunteering can change a community.
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PresidentKen Hamilton is one of just 50 volunteers dedicating their time to make sure the pool stays open.

And the reward is obvious.

“We do it for the community and I love it,” Mr Hamilton said.

“You’re not working for money, you’re working for your own personal satisfaction.”

While he now lives in Shelbourne, he said he would always have a special connection to the Golden Square community.

“It’s a really great community here and this place is run on volunteers – without them, we couldn’t afford to stay open.”

Mr Hamilton started volunteering his time when the pool shut down in November last year, and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

“There was a lot of work to save it but we know now that it was all worth it,” he said.

“Every day that I’m here I have at least two to three people come up and say how great it is that the pool is open.

“It makes you realise why we do it and we’re just lucky we have so many people helping out.”

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Letters: Local input valuable

In the Illawarra, significant benefit was achieved from work-for-the-dole programs.
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The Australian Bureau of Statistics says more than 60per cent of people unemployed for more than 12 months receive benefits for more than 10 years.

However, participating in local work-for-the-dole programs reduced this figure by more than half.

So, not only have participants but also our community benefited.

This included projects like the restoration of the gun emplacements at Flagstaff Hill and Cliff Road, enjoyed by many on Australia Day and at other local events.

Other local work-for-the-dole projects included repairing trails at Mt Keira Scout Camp and providing staff for charity opportunity shops.

These achievements were gained through the involvement of local organisations with broad community and business networks.

As the current local Job Service Australia providers are commercial organisations, or national-statewide non-profit groups, lacking extensive local community and industry networks, it is to be hoped that the minister enables the previously successful local providers to tender for the revised work-for-the-dole program.

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Jay Weatherill visits Port Augusta

BUSHFIRE: CFS regional prevention officer Nik Ludborz, CFS regional commander Bluey Devine and premier Jay Weatherill discuss the severity of recent bushfires. MAP: Bluey Devine shows premier Jay Weatherill where bushfires hit South Australia.
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Bluey Devine and premier Jay Weatherill

Bluey Devine and premier Jay Weatherill.

Bluey Devine and premier Jay Weatherill.

Bluey Devine and premier Jay Weatherill.

(From left) Andrew Lawson, Nik Ludborz, Bluey Devine and premier Jay Weatherill.

PORT AUGUSTA: Premier Jay Weatherill fronts the media in Port Augusta on Saturday.

VISIT: Premier Jay Weatherill leaving Port Augusta.

Premier Jay Weatherill.

Premier Jay Weatherill has thanked the Country Fire Service for theirefforts to contain the Bangor bushfire during a quickvisit to Port Augusta.

The Premier was given a full briefing of the fire during a meeting with CFSofficers at the region 4 headquarters on Main Street on Saturday.

Mr Weatherill commeneded the efforts of those involved.

“This has been an extroadinary effort by the CFS the volunteers andthe farm firefighting units that have all collobarted to bring this fire undercontrol,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic example of our CFS volunteers working extroadinarilyhard in difficult circumstances to bring a fire which was really quite a threateningfire to townships in the mid north under control.

“We are not completely out of the woods yet but the fire iscontained.”

CFS regional commander Bluey Devine said Mr Weatherill was told everydetail about the fire.

“It was a welcome opportunity to speak about the valiant efforts ofeveryone involved in the fire,” he said.

“We gave him a full briefing on the fire from its start and also thesupport services such as our farm fire units, police, SES, DEWNR (Department ofEnvironment, Water and Natural Resources), Forestry SA and all the people thatsupported us throughout this entire process.”

The three week blaze has burnt through 23,000 hectares and claimed severalproperties but no lives have been lost.

Mr Devine was proud of the efforts of his team and the support services.

“We have 62 brigades in our region and I have to say every singlevolunteer put their heart and soul into this fire and they’ve done anoutstanding effort and they should be proud of themselves,” he said.

“Fortunately we were able to save lives and that’s number one.”

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Ratepayers sour over council’s sweet treats

Carrot cake tasting at Richard Cornish’s home. 25 October 2013.The Age Epicure. Photo:EDDIE JIM. Photo: Eddie Jim EJZStaff at a council in Victoria’s west have gorged their way through almost $30,000 worth of cakes and slices in the past three years.
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City of Ballarat employees used their staff entitlement cards to charge ratepayer’s dough on sweet treats between 2010 and 2013.

During that time, more than $63,000 was spent on coffee alone, $139,826 on meals, $134,566 on gifts, and $105,224 on technology such as iPads. Another $34,569 was spent on drinks and alcohol and $61,031 on subscriptions.

Documents released under Freedom of Information to the Ballarat Courier reveal that more than 40,000 transactions were made by staff during that time, costing ratepayers $6.8 million.

Spending more than tripled from in those three years; $1.2 million was spent in 2010, which jumped to $3.7 million in 2013.

The council defended the costs, saying entertainment and meal expenses were essential for staff meeting with government officials and businesses to promote the city.

Council chief executive officer Anthony Schinck said transparency was a key feature of the staff entitlement card, which mandated that any expenses are clearly explained.

“There should be information about who they’ve met, so we know what the meeting was about,” he said. “If you use the purchase card, expect somebody to query why you’ve clocked up 20 coffee meetings in two weeks.”

Almost 200 staff members are authorised to have the purchase cards from the National Australia Bank; expenses do not incur interest, however a bank fee is applied.

Full story

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