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Utah has passed a law to become the only state in the United States to allow execution by firing squad.


Governor Gary Herbert has signed a law approving the controversial method’s use when no lethal-injection drugs are available.

Herbert has said he finds the firing squad “a little bit gruesome”, but Utah is a capital punishment state and needs a backup in case a shortage of the drugs persists.

“We regret anyone ever commits the heinous crime of aggravated murder to merit the death penalty, and we prefer to use our primary method of lethal injection when such a sentence is issued,” Herbert spokesman Marty Carpenter said.

“However, when a jury makes the decision and a judge signs a death warrant, enforcing that lawful decision is the obligation of the executive branch.”

The measure’s approval is the latest illustration of some states’ frustration over bungled executions and difficulty obtaining the drugs.

Utah is one of several states seeking new forms of capital punishment after a botched Oklahoma lethal injection last year.

States have struggled to keep up their drug inventories as European manufacturers opposed to capital punishment refuse to sell the components of lethal injections to US prisons.

Many argue that a team of trained marksmen is faster and more decent than the drawn-out deaths involved when lethal injections go awry – or even if they go as planned.

Opponents say firing squads are barbaric, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah saying the bill makes the state “look backward and backwoods”.

Utah lawmakers stopped offering inmates the choice of firing squad in 2004, saying the method attracted intense media interest and took attention away from victims.

Utah is the only state in the past 40 years to carry out such a death sentence, with three executions by firing squad since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

The last was in 2010, when Ronnie Lee Gardner was put to death by five police officers with .30-calibre Winchester rifles in an event that generated international interest and elicited condemnation from many.

Forget bringing down Foxtel, Nine and Seven, Netflix’s main aim is to end online piracy in Australia.


The US streaming service says its entrance to the Australian market on Tuesday will not disrupt the traditional television industry, or even pay TV operator Foxtel.

Founder and chief executive Reed Hastings instead has his eye on ending the illegal downloading of movies and TV programs not screened by traditional broadcasters.

“We’re really focused on heading off piracy,” he told AAP.

“There’s big piracy in Australia, and part of that is because there is not an easy, affordable service.

“What we have seen in Canada is as we grew, the amount of piracy declined, so that would be the hope here.”

He believes most people would prefer to watch TV and films legally, as long as the content is available immediately and at an affordable price.

Netflix’s Australian catalogue includes House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, but is currently smaller than those available in the US and other countries.

There are plans to expand its offerings in the coming months.

Netflix joins a growing list of online streaming services to hit the local market, including Nine and Fairfax Media’s Stan and Foxtel’s Presto.

Growth in the streaming industry has prompted Foxtel to restructure its pricing policies and prompted all players to aggressively bid for broadcast rights for popular programs including Game Of Thrones, Mad Men and Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul.

But Mr Hastings does not expect Netflix’s arrival to trigger Foxtel’s demise, even if the US giant achieves its long-term goal of reaching up to three million Australian homes.

“It’s not a substitute, people are not cancelling cable to watch Netflix,” he said.

“Cable is 10 times more expensive, and we don’t have sports.

“We’re a supplementary channel.”

He also said the service works well at Australia’s slower internet speeds, and is confident internet data caps, a potential barrier to heavy users of streaming services, will continue to grow.

Tasmania have snapped up teenage batting star Jake Doran on a two-year contract, comparing the “coup” to their signing of Shane Watson 14 years ago.


NSW wanted to retain the talented 18-year-old, who played for the Prime Minister’s X1 against England and the Chairman’s XI against South Africa in the recent summer.

But Cricket NSW chief executive Andrew Jones said they were not in a position to match Tasmania’s offer to Doran, who was in the NSW second XI and yet to make his first-class debut.

Tasmania’s chairman of selectors Michael Farrell confirmed the two-year deal.

“Jake Doran is coming to play cricket on a long-term basis for Tasmania,” said Farrell, adamant there was no assurance of a spot in the Sheffield Shield team.

“We don’t do that, we just don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Farrell said.

“A lot of work goes into a playing list so there’s no guarantee of a game.”

The move comes a fortnight after former Test opener Ed Cowan announced he would leave Tasmania to return to Sydney.

“(Doran) will come down and press his claims like everyone else,” Farrell said.

“Cowan going has certainly left a big hole in our list and we’ve got to rebuild quickly.”

Farrell said the move was “reasonably similar” to Tasmania’s signing of Queenslander Watson, who made his first-class debut for the state in 2001 at age 20 and got his break into international cricket there before returning north in 2004.

“Shane came down here just to boost our playing stocks really quickly and he did that, which got his international career underway,” he said.

“It’s similar to that. I would probably say that Shane was well advanced when he came down here. It was just a matter of him honing his game.

“We’re hopeful Jake will do that but Shane was a touch more advanced than probably what Jake is.”

Jones said NSW wasn’t going to make an exception for Doran in order to keep him.

“We have invested heavily in Jake’s development and were keen to keep him.

“We made him an offer based on his age, potential and performances at senior level to date.

“The success of NSW cricket for well over a century has been built entirely on merit-based selection and reward, and our offer was consistent with these principles.”

He is fully entitled to make that choice and we wish him well.”

A Yalangi woman from the Kunjandji clan and prominent former Magistrate, O’Shane has demonstrated a lifelong-trend for achieving ‘firsts’.


She was the first Aboriginal teacher in Queensland, Australia’s first Aboriginal Barrister, the first woman and Aboriginal person to head a Government department in Australia and the country’s first Aboriginal magistrate.

But Indigenous women have had no choice but to be political, O’Shane says, thanks to a lack of protection from double-discrimination (sex and racial-based) and the essential role played by Indigenous women in keeping communities together and Aboriginal cultures alive.

“When you talk about women in the Indigenous political movement, I can’t think of one, honestly, I can’t think of one who was going to take a back seat,” O’Shane says on NITV’s Awaken program.

“We were never out of politics because it was literally the air we breathed, the land we walked.”

“We were never out of politics because it was literally the air we breathed, the land we walked.”

O’Shane joins four other prominent women for a special NITV Awaken called ‘Influencers and Game-changers.’

Appearing with her are Tanya Hosch, a Torres Strait Islander woman and 2012 AFR Woman of Influence who is a campaign director for the Recognise constitutional recognition campaign; Tania Major, a Kokoberra woman and 2007 Young Australian of the Year; Shari Sebbens, a Bardi, Jabirr-Jabirr woman and actress who successfully traverses stage, film and television; and Amelia Telford a Bundjalung and South Sea Islander woman, climate activist and NAIDOC Youth of the Year.

While O’Shane may have retired from the bench, it is clear that her role as an advocate for human rights is as strong as ever.

Speaking about government policies around the world. O’Shane lambasts them as “violent” towards Indigenous peoples.

“We live in a violent world. Our government leaders are violent people.

“They have taken us in recent years and even to this day, they have taken [First Peoples] into war zones, where we had no responsibility being [there].”

“They have taken us in recent years and even to this day, they have taken [First Peoples] into war zones, where we had no responsibility being [there].”

She also said that that the cutting of services is tantamount to perpetuating human rights abuses.

Her comments come after the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, announced funding cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations under the Federal Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS).

Minister Scullion has announced that less than half of the 2,345 Indigenous organisations that sought funding for 4,948 projects under the strategy will share in $860 million to deliver 1,297 projects.

Awaken: Influencers and Game-changers airs on NITV at 9.30pm on Wednesday 25 March (Channel 34 free to air. Channel 144 Foxtel).

It is co-hosted by Catherine Liddle and Stan Grant, and features Pat O’Shane, Tania Major, Shari Sebbens, Amelia Telford and Tanya Hosch.

Turning crowded urban areas into a green oasis could help fight the impact of climate change, Australian experts believe.


Urban greening advocacy group 202020 Vision wants Australia’s green urban areas increased by 20 per cent by 2020 for economic and social benefits, including cooling cities.

The group says reducing the impact of heat in cities could soon be crucial.

The year 2014 was the third hottest in Australia and the hottest globally since reliable climate records began.

A joint CSIRO/Bureau of Meteorology report on climate change, released in January, showed average temperatures in Australia could rise up to 1.3C by 2030 and at least 2.8C by 2090, with more frequent heat extremes.

A University of Sydney study this month said increased heat from global warming could disproportionately affect heavily built-up urban areas, trapping heat by day, re-radiating it at night and increasing heat stress for residents.

Dr Simon Divecha, a 202020 Vision spokesman from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, says urban greening shields cities from heat.

“If we shade the buildings, the walls, the roads, it stops that mass … absorbing that heat during the day and radiating that heat at night,” Dr Divecha said.

Air-conditioning can work more efficiently if combined with planting shade trees and wall vegetation or rooftop gardens and urban re-greening along watercourses.

New commercial buildings in France must now have solar panels or rooftop gardens, Dr Divecha said.

A green roof reduces stormwater runoff when it rains, reduces air pollution, shades and doesn’t re-radiate heat like a concrete roof does, he said.

Although more work is needed, Dr Divecha said Australian councils are embracing change.

The Sydney City Council encourages roof gardens in new buildings, while the City of Adelaide seeks efficient building design and Melbourne city planners are developing new ways to add greenery to urban landscapes.

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Chinese currency use accelerates

China has brought forward its timing to eliminate restrictions on trading its currency, as its use in other countries accelerates.


People’s Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan said this week Beijing will push for full convertibility in 2015, after last year saying it would happen in the next two to three years.

That means the renminbi will be able to be traded without restrictions on the amount exchanged, or central bank approval for the use of large amounts, HSBC Australia head of commercial banking James Hogan said.

It makes sense for restrictions on the renminbi to be lifted because more non-Chinese businesses are showing greater trust in the currency, he said.

“The renminbi is now the second most used currency, this time last year it was the fourth most used currency,” Mr Hogan said.

“People are more comfortable in dealing with renminbi now.”

The move to full convertibility is an important step towards the Chinese currency being fully floated like the Australian dollar, he said.

Mr Hogan expects the renminbi to be traded on the open market in two years.

It is currently only allowed to trade in a fairly narrow band set by China’s central bank.

In Australia, 13 per cent of companies use the renminbi for cross border business, up from the nine per cent reported in 2014, a survey commissioned by HSBC showed.

In 2013, the first year of the survey, that was just seven per cent.

Australian adoption of the Chinese currency is now close to Singapore and South Korea’s rate of 15 per cent, and is set to increase further in coming years.

According to the HSBC survey, 20 per cent of current non users are planning to settle international business in the renminbi in the next three years.

“Gone are the days where people saw the renminbi as a one-way bet, it would only depreciate,” Mr Hogan said.

“What you’re now seeing is there’s a greater level of maturity.”

The Greens want the Senate to hold an inquiry into allegations asylum seekers were sexually abused at an offshore processing centre on Nauru.


It follows the public release of a independent review which uncovered claims of sexual harassment and abuse, including three allegations of rape, inside the Australian-funded centre.

The government has accepted all the recommendations former integrity commissioner Phillip Moss made in a report released late last week.

Greens leader Christine Milne says a Senate inquiry is needed to allow the allegations to be aired under parliamentary privilege.

The Nauru government, in its first public response to the Moss review, said it was disappointed at the actions of service providers at the centre.

“It is clear that there must be changes in the way these operations are managed,” it said in a statement, adding the government strongly condemned sexual assault, violence or any form of intimidation.

It warned refugees and advocacy groups not to use the review’s report to further what it said was a campaign of “lies and aggression”.

“Sadly some have abused our friendship and some groups in Australia continue to spread misinformation about refugees in Nauru,” the government said.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the inquiry would “shine a light in the dark places”.

“We know that the justice system in Nauru is a basket case, to put it politely,” she told reporters in Canberra.

She said the statement by the Nauru government sounded like “something that has been written by a spin doctor in order to protect a corrupt government”.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott conceded it was “appalling and reprehensible” that abuse appeared to have taken place at the detention centre.

But in response to a question from Greens MP Adam Bandt, he refused to say whether the government would apologise to aid group Save the Children.

The review found no conclusive evidence to support claims members of the group were encouraging asylum seekers to engage in self-harm and make false claims about abuse.

Mr Abbott said the government had been able to restart a decent humanitarian immigration intake program.

“Because those coming to Australia are now being chosen by us, and not by the people smugglers.”

Disregarding perhaps only the toss, Australia’s biggest decision this week is likely to be whether to include spinner Xavier Doherty in their side to face the world champions.


Much, of course, will depend on the wicket, which on Tuesday afternoon was covered by a huge white blanket as rain tumbled down on the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

If, as coach Darren Lehmann expects, it is a similar track to that on which Australia beat Sri Lanka in the pool stage, Doherty’s contribution might be restricted to handing out water bottles.

If, however, it is more similar to the wicket on which spinners Imran Tahir and JP Duminy took seven wickets in South Africa’s quarter-final win over the Sri Lankans last week, Doherty might be set for his second start.

The trouble for Australia is that despite the SCG’s tradition for offering turn, it is not always that easy to tell in advance whether a track will or not.

“Last time we played here, it looked like the wicket would spin quite a bit but it didn’t, it played really true,” Australia opener Aaron Finch said on Tuesday.

“It’s still two days out from the game so it’s hard to tell, the wicket can change quite a bit here in Sydney in two days.”

Left-armer Doherty did play against Sri Lanka, going for sixty runs without adding to his less-than-stellar tally of 55 wickets in 60 one-day internationals.

Australia captain Michael Clarke is a big fan of including a spin bowler, especially at his home ground, but is no longer a selector.

The committee that meets to decide which players Clarke will lead on Thursday may decide that Australia’s part-time slow bowlers — Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, David Warner, even Clarke himself — have enough quality to carry the load.

Certainly, in a perfect world, Australia would like to retain right-arm quick Josh Hazlewood to get stuck into India’s highly-regarded corps of batsmen along with the ‘Mitchs’, first choice left-armers Johnson and Starc.

Even though Doherty was given a long workout in the nets on Tuesday, Johnson thinks it is likely Hazlewood will stay and Australia will be unchanged for the first time in the World Cup.

“It’s looking that way, that we’ll have the same 11,” he told Fox Sports at the SCG.

“The bowling group’s been going really well. Joshy Hazlewood bowled really well in the last game. To have that stability is really important.”

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Star recruit James O’Connor feels ready to show his true wares and it’s likely to be in his favoured position as the embattled Queensland Reds welcome back a host of players.


O’Connor has overcome a calf injury ahead of Friday night’s clash with the Lions at Suncorp Stadium and, while he wouldn’t confirm it, the return of playmaker Quade Cooper means he is likely to play on the wing for the first time this season.

O’Connor was hailed as one of the world’s best wingers by coach Richard Graham during pre-season, but the Reds’ injury crisis meant the 24-year-old turned out at five eighth and fullback in the two games he has played – failing to hit any great heights on either occasion.

Asked where he would be stationed against the Lions, O’Connor said with a wry grin: “Obviously not 10.”

“Quade’s back so that’s good.

“I’ll be in the outside backs.

“We looked pretty good yesterday – I don’t think we’ve announced the team so I can’t say exactly where just yet.

“But I think it’s the best position for me to be involved.

“It’s where I’m comfortable, it should work out pretty well.”

O’Connor said there was a new energy at Ballymore this week as the likes of Cooper, Samu Kerevi, Greg Holmes, Ben Daley, Lachie Turner and possibly Beau Robinson prepare to return from the casualty ward.

“As a whole it’s been pretty frustrating,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of injuries and that’s what affected the way we play as a group and what we could do as a group.”

O’Connor revealed he had not been 100 per cent fit during his short time with the Reds – but he is now, and he’s ready to prove a point or two.

“Both games I’ve played, we lost. That’s not a good stat to start,” he said.

“I don’t think I played anywhere near my best.

“I just haven’t quite been able to get into my stride… (but) this is the first of hopefully many weeks where I can stay on the field and keep my body in good shape.

“We had a really good training yesterday, I got my metres back up to where they had been at my top speed.”

Gold Coast are hoping rising star Kane Elgey can be the spark to deliver the club their first NRL win of 2015.


The 21-year-old has been named to make his NRL debut at halfback in Saturday’s clash with Cronulla at Remondis Stadium after Daniel Mortimer was ruled out with injury.

Mortimer suffered a fracture to his left wrist against Newcastle last Sunday and will spend at least three weeks on the sidelines.

Henry admits Elgey’s promotion is probably ahead of what he had planned for last year’s Holden Cup player of the year but he is hopeful the local junior can deliver against fellow strugglers the Sharks.

“He’s been in pretty good form in the Queensland Cup … had a very good game in very wet conditions for a good win the other day,” Henry said.

“He’s ready for the challenge.

“He’s a left-footer, he’s got a bit of a sharp step there too. He can play at the line and play nice and square for us.

“We’re confident the guys around him will help him out … quite excited to get the nod.”

Elgey’s inclusion is the only change from the team which fell 20-18 to the Knights for their third loss from as many starts this season with Agnatius Paasi coming onto an extended bench.

Henry said he was happy to back the players who fell short against Newcastle and was expecting a tight affair against a Cronulla team which is also 0-3 and desperate for a win.

“(Luke) Lewis is back in the fold, had a bit of a run last week, the two Fafita boys have a bit of punch in the middle,” he said.

“It’s going to be a tough game.”

A boost for the Titans is the omission of Sharks’ five-eighth Ben Barba, who has accepted a two-match suspension after being charged for two separate incidents by the match review committee.

Henry said despite Barba’s indifferent start to life at Cronulla, he’s glad the playmaker won’t be in the opposition’s line-up.

“I’m not sure what they’ll do there,” he said.

“Maybe Wade Graham, he’s played there before, as has Luke Lewis.

“You’re waiting for Barba to click a bit and I suppose he’s a danger guy. Probably happy he’s not there.”

Saturday’s game will be the Titans’ 200th NRL match as well as the 150th career game for long-serving back William Zillman.

Titans team: Josh Hoffman, Anthony Don, James Roberts, William Zillman, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Kane Elgey, Luke Douglas, Beau Falloon, Nate Myles (capt), Ryan James, Dave Taylor, Greg Bird. Interchange (one to be omitted): Eddy Pettybourne, Matt White, Ryan Simpkins, Kierran Moseley, Agnatius Paasi.