Home-town win in Hobart 1000

Regent Thunder, bred and owned by Hobart bookmaker Barry Heawood and trained by local legend Ted Medhurst, made the most of box one to score an upset victory.
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Regent Thunder was able to hold the rail, kick clear around the turn, and hold off the closers to win in a time of 25.76secs.

The son of Lilli Pilli Lad scored by three quarters of a length from the keenly supported favourite, Victorian Lukeamy, with Pure Oz, of NSW, third.

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Wollongong lawyer’s death-row mission to New Orleans

Maire Grimes will work with United States prisoners condemned to death. Picture: ROBERT PEETWollongong lawyer Maire Grimes’ legal skills will face the ultimate test when she heads to the United States this month to work with those facing the death penalty.RMB Lawyers’ Ms Grimes will spend four months in New Orleans with Reprieve Australia, an organisation that provides legal representation and humanitarian assistance to people sentenced to death.”As a lawyer, it is the most important case you can do because the outcome is someone’s life,” Ms Grimes said.”I’ve always had an opposition to the death penalty and I’ve always been very passionate about the need for people to work these cases, which are very difficult.”The clients are usually very poor, often have intellectual or mental disabilities and many are illiterate.”Ms Grimes said she was looking forward to the opportunity to expand her experience and work with some highly respected legal professionals.”It’s a way of being able to give something back and participate in the human rights process,” she said.”It’s going to be a challenge.”The entire (US) legal structure and court system is different, so I will be very much thrown in the deep end.”I am nervous. The cases are going to be extremely difficult and there will be a culture shock because it’s the first time I’ve been to the US.”It’s a largely African American population and poverty is rife, particularly in New Orleans, where I’ll be based. “It also has the highest crime rate of any state in the US and a high murder rate.”Ms Grimes will be working on original trials and appeals. Although she will be dealing with some terrible crimes, she said working closely with prisoners would help her to recognise their humanity.”They have families, they have friends, they had a childhood,” she said.”When you interact with them on that basis, it’s very difficult to see them as just their crime.”
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IRA could face disarmament

In Dublin, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern hosted talks with Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party backed by most of the north’s Catholics, while in London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair did the same with the Democratic Unionists, the major Protestant party in Northern Ireland.
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Dual role for Hawks assistant coach Flinn

Former Hawks player Matt Flinn will take on the dual role as second Hawks assistant coach and the club’s full-time community development officer this season. This newly created development officer role makes Flinn primarily responsible for promoting the Hawks in the local community.For the past two seasons Flinn has been an assistant coach to Eric Cooks. For the 2009-10 season Flinn and Cooks will be assistant coaches to new head coach Gordon McLeod.While this will be Flinn’s third season as an assistant coach, it is the first time he has taken on a full-time role with the Hawks. Wollongong tip off the new NBL season at home to Perth Wildcats on September 25.FULL REPORT IN FRIDAY’S MERCURY
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The Ashes: limitations of Ponting’s captaincy exposed

Ricky PontingAfter an improbably eventful opening session notable for spasmodically incisive bowling and wayward batting, the first Test settled into a steady pace as England’s third-wicket pair ground down an attack that threatened briefly before falling back into a holding operation.It was a workmanlike start to a contest trying to live up to expectations on a supine surface.By no means was the beginning as dramatic as the opening exchanges at Lord’s in 2005. But, then, the pitch was duller and the venue more provincial. The Ashes: Score card Not even Mitchell Johnson, as tall as a basketballer, was able to extract any bounce, or not in his first spell anyhow.Sophia Gardens lived up to its reputation for providing moribund surfaces favouring front-foot batsmen and, latterly, spinners.Anything dropped short was easily put away and watchful batsmen were difficult to dislodge.By mid afternoon Ricky Ponting had thrown the ball to his spinners, a specialist and an occasional, and spread his field.But he overdid the tactic, persevering with his mild tweakers for overs upon end, denying Johnson opportunities to bowl at his favoured River End and keeping Ben Hilfenhaus inactive for almost the entire afternoon.Instead, the batsmen were permitted to collect patiently with sweeps and glides to cover against tidy tweakers. Hereabouts the limitations of the attack were exposed. So was Ponting’s captaincy. With runs on the board and the pitch ageing, England’s spinners ought to be a more awkward proposition.Australia had surprised themselves by taking three wickets in the morning. Losing the toss had been a blow to a touring team down on its luck and denied the services of several eminent players. Overnight Ponting had faced a tricky decision about the construction of his side, a choice so awkward that as his team warmed up all and sundry were searching for clues about his verdict. Hilfenhaus was observed marking out his run, evidence that he had made the cut. To widespread surprise Stuart Clark seemed to be hanging around the fringes. Nathan Hauritz was observed loosening his muscles.Having included the off spinner, Ponting promptly made the mistake of giving him too much responsibility. Giving Hauritz a 14-over stint and asking Michael Clarke to back him up hardly seemed the way to go. Moreover Ponting placed three men on the boundary, sometimes four. Not much of a way to win a Test match. England’s batsmen were able to play themselves into form. It was a huge concession to make on the first day of an Ashes campaign.Australia were dangerous only in the periods when the bowlers produced the aggression so singularly missing in the pitch. Not for the first time Peter Siddle woke up the attack with a potent opening burst.The Victorian knows no defeat, gives no ground to docile decks, and immediately set about shaking up the batsmen.That the first wicket fell to his partner was mere coincidence. By hurling himself into the fray, Siddle had changed the atmosphere.Hilfenhaus responded with a more penetrating burst and for the first time the home openers were put under pressure. Alastair Cook promptly produced an airy stroke outside off-stump that sent the ball flashing towards gully, where Michael Hussey took an athletic catch.Next Siddle welcomed Ravi Bopara, England’s dashing first drop, with a bumper that the swaying batsmen took on the chest.Now both sides knew that the Ashes were properly under way. Not that batting looked difficult as Andrew Strauss tried to strike the first blow in the crucial battle between the captains.Not that the pitch showed any nascent signs of life. Just that the pace bowlers had started chasing scalps as opposed to waiting for them to arrive on a plate.Presently Hilfenhaus was withdrawn after a seven-over spell that improved as it went along. England fought back from the early wicket and began to look secure. Strauss set about establishing his innings with a typically pragmatic innings but did not survive until lunch as Johnson suddenly produced a searing over.And with lunch approaching Johnson struck again with a slower ball that fooled England’s careless first drop.Hereabouts the match hung in the balance. England were on the brink of wasting their opportunity.All the more surprising, then, to see the Australians take their foot off the throat in the afternoon.
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Howard ties knot in Asia

Mr Howard secured agreement from the 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations to begin free trade talks that would lock Australia and New Zealand into the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing region.
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It could take two years of gruelling negotiation to hammer out a pact but, if successful, the deal would open the door to ASEAN’s 540 million people and generate billions of dollars in export earnings over a 10-year phase-in beginning from 2007.

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Business briefs

OPEC exceeds quota
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[BB] JAKARTA – OPEC is producing 28.5 million barrels of oil a day, exceeding its quota by 1. 5 million a day, the cartel’s president said yesterday.

“We have oversupply (amounting to) 1.5 million barrels per day. Currently total output stands at 28.5 million barrel per day,” Purnomo Yusgiantoro said, predicting that demand for oil would decrease in the second quarter of 2005.

Car makers lifting

MELBOURNE – Australia’s new motor vehicle production has moved from a rustbelt industry to a dynamic one over the past 20 years, Ford Australia president Tom Gorman said at Committee for the Economic Development of Australia luncheon yesterday.

He said new vehicle production in Australia was on track to achieve its third consecutive record with 950,000 units expected in 2004 – 40,000 more than last year.

Dollar takes a dive

SYDNEY – The Australian dollar slumped more than one US cent yesterday as a resurgence in the US dollar and soft local data dragged it down.

At 5pm, the local unit was trading at US77.60/63c compared with US78.70/75c at Monday’s close.

It reached a high of US78.36c before dropping to a low of US77.41c just after the release of weak retail and building approvals figures.

Virgin numbers up

BRISBANE – Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd yesterday reported passenger numbers were up 29 per cent in October compared to the same month last year.

The discount carrier’s preliminary operating statistics for October found Virgin Blue carried 1,166,757 passengers in October compared to 904,532 last year.

It also found traffic, measured by revenue passenger kilometres, increased by 32.5 per cent in the same period.

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Shellharbour cannabis accused to seek bail

A man accused of growing cannabis worth almost $800,000 will seek bail during a hearing in Wollongong Local Court today.He was expected to appear yesterday, but was delayed at hospital where he was taken by police for a routine procedure.The 66-year-old was believed to have had surgery days before his Shellharbour home was raided by police on Monday and had to return to the hospital for a dressing change yesterday.Officers from Lake Illawarra Command’s drug unit raided the man’s Old Bass Point Rd home after receiving a tip-off. Inside, they allegedly found 152 cannabis plants growing in an elaborate hydroponics set-up and about 1.8kg of cannabis leaf. The drugs have an estimated street value of $785,000.The man was charged with cultivating a commercial quantity of a prohibited plant by enhanced indoor means, using or consuming electricity without authority, and supplying an indictable quantity of cannabis. Police are urging members of the public with information about the manufacture or supply of illicit drugs to contact their nearest police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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Costello issues a warning

Mr Costello has raised particular concern over higher oil prices and the stronger Australian dollar, which was hitting exporters.
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Shoppers and home builders in Sydney have taken the wind out of Australia’s economic sails, leading to Mr Costello’s warning of tougher economic times ahead. New figures showed a surprising dip in retail sales as shoppers, perhaps spooked by the October election and high oil prices, stopped stalking the nation’s shopping malls.

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