Rugby Australia chief executive search on ice as Rob Clarke extends time in charge

Clarke’s plans to go travelling have fallen through because of COVID-19 and he was more than happy to take on the role while RA began the formal process of finding Castle’s successor.

McLennan was appointed chairman a few weeks later and he has become a big fan of Clarke.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke (left) and chairman Hamish McLennan (right) after last week's announcement that Australia will host the Rugby Championship.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke (left) and chairman Hamish McLennan (right) after last week’s announcement that Australia will host the Rugby Championship. Credit:Getty

Finding a new CEO hasn’t been at the top of RA’s priority list given there is a multitude of issues to deal with, including a 2021 broadcast deal, constitutional reform, cost cutting across the business, finalising a Test-match schedule, as well as a collective bargaining agreement on the horizon to go with player pay cut talks that will need to be finalised by the end of the month.

Recruitment firm Hattonneale had compiled a shortlist of candidates but given Clarke will now stick around for another three months, those eyeing the chance to run rugby will have to wait a little longer.

“I’m not going to be pressured or rushed into a decision when we’re solving massive issues,” McLennan said. “He [Clarke] and I get on really well and I trust him, as he trusts me.”

Last month, the Herald reported that Chris White, the managing director of sports talent, sponsorship and marketing behemoth International Quarterback, as well as former NSW cricket boss Andrew Jones and SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos were potential options to replace Clarke.

I’m not going to be pressured or rushed into a decision when we’re solving massive issues.

Hamish McLennan

McLennan said his decision to ask Clarke to stay on had nothing to do with a lack of strong options.

“We’ve seen lots of good candidates, but I’ve always said there’s no rush and considering the amount of work we need to do with the Rugby Championship and launching the new competition next year, Rob has kindly agreed to stay through until March next year,” McLennan said. “We’re making huge progress and having a few laughs while we bring it all together.

“We’ve stabilised RA, got more engagement with the member unions, we’re driving costs down, we got the Rugby Championship, have broadcast negotiations in play and have made real progress on constitutional reform, so Rob and I are going to keep bulldozing forward.”

There is a chance, albeit unlikely, that Clarke may stay on indefinitely. If things go smoothly in the coming months, McLennan may try to convince Clarke to remain in charge.


However, according to McLennan, this is only a short extension and his colleague has no desire to remain in the role long-term.

“He’s pretty committed to going sailing in the Mediterranean,” McLennan said.

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Ben Abio and Abraham Ajang Yaak face court over murder charge

A 13th person has been arrested over the deadly north Brisbane park brawl which claimed the life of a 19-year-old and injured 11 others.

A Queensland Police spokesman confirmed a 13th person had been arrested, but had not yet been charged.

It comes as two men were charged with the murder of Girum Mekonnen overnight, a day after 10 others were charged.

One of the men charged overnight will fight the charges, his lawyer has confirmed.

Security was on high alert as Ben Abio, 19, and Abraham Ajang Yaak, 26, fronted Brisbane Arrests Court on Friday morning over the alleged murder of Girum Mekonnen.

It followed emotional scenes outside court as the 10 men charged over the Zillmere brawl appeared in court on Thursday.

Yaak’s family members remained outside the court as he appeared via video link on Friday.

The Redbank Plains men were charged on Thursday night with 12 counts of acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm and one count each of murder, affray and disobedience to lawful order.

The arrests bring the total number of men charged in the ongoing investigation to 12.

Neither men made applications for bail as their matters were adjourned.

Yaak’s lawyer, Basil Karsas, said his client would contest the charges.

Outside court he told reporters Yaak was doing “all right” but said it was “too early to comment any further”.

Abio and Yaak are the latest men to be charged alongside Kresto Wal Wal, Yohana Wal Wal, Gabreal Wal Wal, Santo Wal, Majok Riel Majok, Anas Ayman Abdu Musa, Juma Makuol Deng Makuol, Chan Kuchmol Kon and Alex Edward Deng and Joseph Lokolong.

Police allege the group was involved in a violent gang brawl at O’Callaghan Park in Zillmere on September 13.

The fight resulted in the death of Mr Mekonnen, 19, after he was allegedly bashed and stabbed during the fight.

All 12 men will remain behind bars until their next appearance until November 16.

The Courier Mail reported Makuol, 23, had three outstanding warrants for his arrest when he was taken into custody on Wednesday.

He is also facing multiple charges of breaching his bail.

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Sedition Charge Could Apply to Riot Violence

A Department of Justice memo sent to U.S. attorneys urges federal prosecutors to bring harsh penalties against rioters and even sedition charges could possibly apply, according to a report.

The Associated Press stated Thursday:

The sedition statute doesn’t require proof of a plot to overthrow the government, the memo read. It instead could be used when a defendant tries to oppose the government’s authority by force.

Attorney General William Barr has been pushing his U.S. attorneys to bring federal charges in protest-related violence whenever they can, keeping a grip on cases even if a defendant could be tried instead in state court. Federal convictions often result in longer prison sentences; sedition alone could lead to up to 20 years behind bars.

The memo cited as a hypothetical example “a group has conspired to take a federal courthouse or other federal property by force,” but the real thing took place in Portland, Oregon, during clashes that erupted night after night between law enforcement and demonstrators.

The report comes after Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec confirmed that the federal agency looked into whether it could bring criminal or civil rights charges against local officials due to ongoing violence in their cities.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Barr asked federal prosecutors to explore whether Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) could be charged over her city’s police-free “autonomous zone” — known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) — which was closed down in the wake of violence and two shootings.

Durkan took to social media to responded to the Times‘ report, branding it “chilling” and the “latest abuse of power” by the Trump administration. “This is not a story about me. It’s about the how this President and his Attorney General are willing to subvert the law and use the DOJ for political purposes,” she added.

Barr has repeatedly slammed Democrats over their response to the ongoing civil unrest and riots sparks by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.

“What makes me concerned for the country is [that] this is the first time in my memory that the leaders of one of our great two political parties, the Democratic Party, are not coming out and condemning mob violence and the attack on federal courts,” Barr told House Judiciary Committee members in July.

“Why can’t we just say: ‘Violence against federal courts has to stop?’” he added. “Could we hear something like that?”

300 people have been arrested on federal crimes since protests began over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody, according to an analysis conducted by the AP.

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Police charge second man over alleged bashing murder of Victor Codea at Adelaide High School

A second man has been charged with murder over the alleged bashing of a man at Adelaide High School last month.

The 24-year-old man from Adelaide’s CBD is expected to face the Adelaide Magistrates Court tomorrow charged with murder.

Police allege Victor Codea, 24, of Ridleyton, was lured to the front car park of Adelaide High School between 9:30pm and 9:40pm on August 28.

Alleged murder victim Victor Codea.(Supplied: SA Police)

Detective Inspector Brett Featherby said four men were present at the time of the assault and Mr Codea was “violently assaulted by three of them”.

“The males left the scene in an older-model sedan and one of Victor’s friends took him to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where he received emergency surgery,” he said.

“Following the assault, the vehicle was driven back to the Welland shopping centre where it was recovered by police.”

Mr Codea remained in a coma after his surgery. He died from his injuries on September 5.

Earlier this month, a 23-year-old man, also from the CBD, had his charge of aggravated assault causing serious harm upgraded to murder after Mr Codea’s death.

Police say they expect to make further arrests.

Inspector Featherby said police suspected the assailants wrongly believed Mr Codea, who had faced drug charges, was a police informant.

“We believe that he’s actually been wrongly accused of providing information to police and we have no knowledge whatsoever that he’s provided any information to police.”

His Facebook account appears to have been hacked, with his occupation listed as “police informer”.

Police urged anyone who was near Adelaide High School or the Welland Plaza Shopping Centre on the night of August 28 and noticed Mr Codea’s white 2019 Toyota Corolla with South Australian registration S331CAE to contact Crime Stoppers.

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Brownlow favourite Neale avoids charge

Brisbane ball magnet Lachie Neale’s Brownlow Medal charge is alive and well after he avoided a charge for a tackle on Sydney’s Nick Blakey.

Midfielder Neale’s lunging tackle on Blakey in the third quarter of Sunday’s game raised eyebrows but on Monday the match review officer cleared Neale of rough conduct.

Three other charges were laid though with Western Bulldogs midfielder Bailey Smith (rough conduct), Adelaide small forward Shane McAdam (striking) and Hawthorn’s Blake Hardwick (strike) all able to escape with fines with early guilty pleas.

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York Region police charge massage therapist with sexual assault

York Region police have charged a 55-year-old massage therapist after a woman reported a sexual assault in Newmarket.

Police began their investigation on Aug. 22 after a woman came forward to report that she was sexually assaulted during a massage session at a spa on Main Street South on July 31.

Police are investigating whether there are any other victims.

Michel Sarkis, of Whitchurch Stouffville, was charged on Tuesday with one count of sexual assault.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7071.

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Accused anti-coronavirus lockdown protester Tony Pecora granted bail after facing court on incitement charge

Melbourne police fear a coronavirus conspiracy theorist accused of planning an anti-lockdown rally will continue to incite people to breach health directives, after a court released him on bail on the eve of the protest.

Tony Pecora, 43, buried his phone in his lawyer’s garden after he became the subject of police attention, the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard.

The Middle Park man was charged with incitement after allegedly starting a Facebook event encouraging people to protest against Victoria’s strict lockdown measures this weekend, as the state continues to battle a second wave of infections.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Felicity Broughton said it would be a “grave injustice” if Mr Pecora was remanded in custody over the alleged offences, which carry a maximum penalty of a fine.

She released him on bail conditions which included handing over his phone and computer passwords, following the Chief Health Officer’s directives and not coming within 200 metres of the Victorian Parliament.

She also directed him not to associate or communicate with other administrators of the Facebook event he is accused of starting.

“You are to remove yourself as administrator.”

Pecora blames world banks for coronavirus, police tell court

Investigators opposed bail and revealed they held grave concerns that Mr Pecora, who appeared in court by video link from St Kilda police station, would continue flouting health directives in pursuit of a political agenda.

“He believes that the number of COVID-19 cases is highly exaggerated by geopolitical powers seeking to control people.

“It’s implausible that his conduct will not encourage others to contravene the Chief Health Officer’s directions.”

Mr Pecora was already on bail for attending another anti-lockdown rally at the Shrine of Remembrance in late August when he allegedly created this weekend’s Facebook event.

The court heard that following that incident, the father of one was warned he would be breaking the law if he promoted anti-lockdown rallies.

When police uncovered an event organised for this weekend, they searched Mr Pecora’s home and seized two tablets.

The court heard that police asked Mr Pecora to surrender himself, which he did, but not before giving his laptop to a friend and attempting to give his phone to a solicitor for safekeeping.

Acting Senior Sergeant Schaefer said that after the solicitor in question refused to take the phone, Mr Pecora secretly buried it in the lawyer’s front yard where it was later found by investigators.

Pecora entitled to views on COVID-19, lawyer argues

The detective said Mr Pecora posed a risk to himself and others, and would continue to disregard coronavirus restrictions.

“Not only is the applicant not complying with the Chief Health Officer’s directions, the applicant is inciting others to also disregard the directions,” he said.

“If a person proposed at his rally contracted [COVID-19] and died, he stated that it would be better to die on your feet than live on your knees, a term used in a Midnight Oil song.”

But Mr Pecora’s lawyer, Christopher Wareham, said his client had a limited criminal history and there was no evidence he had incited people not to wear a mask or practise social distancing during the rally.

“The outcome the police are seeking is a form of preventative detention,” Mr Wareham said.

Mr Pecora was ordered not to leave his home after curfew, and answer the front door if police asked.

He is due to return to court in two weeks.

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Jan relishes opportunity with the ‘people in charge’

JAN Jaafr only arrived in Coffs Harbour a few years ago and already he is championing the cause of his peers.

When the opportunity arose to join the first Regional Youth Taskforce, Mr Jaafr jumped at it, not just to help the young people of Coffs Harbour, but to better understand the local issues for himself.

The taskforce is a Ministerial advocacy group with a direct line to government to raise issues faced by young people and Mr Jaafr, who settled in the region three years ago, immediately set about discovering what message his peers had for “the people in charge”.

Mr Jaafr entered Australia as a refugee, having fled Alleppo in northern Syria with his family when he was 10 years old.

“It was great, they helped me a lot,” he said.

“It was a really big step for me, especially being in a new country … and when I asked I found the answers.”

When the RYT first met in Sydney, through discussions with the other representatives, he realised the issues affecting young people in Coffs Harbour bore some similarity to those of his regional peers.

And despite the coronavirus throwing up new challenges for the group, they were able to come together and put suggestions to government which included issues around transportation, drivers licences and a lack of activities.

Mr Jaafr was enthusastic about the RYT and emphasised that the key achievement was that the taskforce had laid the groundwork for future groups to continue the dialogue with government.

“It is a really great thing, we started to figure out the issues and started finding the solutions for it,” he said.

“Every generation has new issues when they are coming up … it is a great thing to have a new generation to keep letting people know we are here.”

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said Mr Jaafr was a valuable member of the inaugural 2020 Taskforce and he is encouraging young people aged between 12 and 24 to take his place.

“For young people in my electorate, this is your chance to be heard, to voice your opinion on local issues, represent your mates and peers and help make decisions that drive change in your own community,” Mr Singh said.

“Between drought, bushfire and COVID-19, the past year has placed significant new pressures on young people in regional communities and it is more important than ever the interests of our local youth are appropriately represented.

“We know each region has different challenges, so we are seeking an even representation of two members from each of the nine NSW regions and we are looking for applications from everybody.”

Minister for Regional Youth Bronnie Taylor says the inaugural RYT provided advice and feedback on local issues resulting in immediate action and work undertaken to deliver real improvements.

NSW Minister for Regional Youth Bronnie Taylor. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett

“It is hard to believe that almost a year has passed since NSW’s first Regional Youth Taskforce came together to have a hand in making decisions and create change, but 2021 is around the corner and it’s time for more voices to raise fresh ideas,” Mrs Taylor said.

“In the brief time the 18 members of the 2020 Taskforce have worked together they have fed into youth strategies, made changes to the process for upgrading a P1 driver’s licence online and advised on a holiday program for families living in drought.

“I want to personally thank each of the outgoing members from the 2020 Taskforce for their passion and commitment to supporting young people in regional NSW and urge every young person with an idea to make the time to apply to be involved next year.”

Travel costs and accommodation will be covered for Regional Youth Taskforce members travelling across NSW for meetings.

To find out more or submit an application visit Applications are open until October 18.

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N.Y. prosecutors charge 2 in connection to Rochester riots

Demonstrators march along a street in Rochester, N.Y., Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, during a protest over the death of Daniel Prude. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 4:50 PM PT – Wednesday, September 9, 2020

New York prosecutors have unveiled criminal charges against two participants of the recent far-left riots in Rochester.

“The reason why we’re all here today is to announce that two individuals have been arrested and charged federally,” stated U.S. attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. “Adam Green, age 20, of Dansville, New York and Dallas William-Smothers, age 20, from here in Rochester.”

According to authorities, these individuals are facing hefty fines and up to five years in prison. They have been charged with obstructing and impeding law enforcement during an outbreak of political violence in the city.

Demonstrators clash with police officers a block from the Public Safety Building in Rochester, N.Y., Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, after a rally and march protesting the death of Daniel Prude. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Prosecutors emphasized multiple attacks on law enforcement took place during those riots.

“Following the public disclosure on September 2nd of Daniel Prude’s death, nightly protests, some of which have been violent, began to take place here in the city of Rochester,” added Kennedy. “Those protests have resulted in property damage and physical injury to members of the Rochester Police Department.”

U.S. attorneys are continuing their investigations into the latest national unrest. They have said they will hold to account every participant of those violent and unlawful actions.

MORE NEWS: Acting DHS Chief: Federal Agents’ Tactics At Violent Riots Are Appropriate

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