Trbojevic back for Manly and Origin push


Tom Trbojevic’s long injury lay off is finally over with Manly coach Des Hasler declaring he’d have no issue with the injury-plagued superstar playing State of Origin this year.

Trbojevic will make his long-awaited return for the Sea Eagles against Gold Coast on Saturday, almost three months after tearing his left hamstring for the third time in two years.

It will leave the 23-year-old two games to push his Origin claims, after scoring a hat-trick with similar lead in time for NSW in Game II last year.

Trbojevic is arguably the most important single player to any team’s success in the competition.

Without him, Manly’s season has spiralled out of control since, going from top-four hopefuls to winning just three of their past 12 games to miss the finals.

But Hasler said he would not stand in the way of the fullback pushing his body until mid-November.

“Aspiration is really important, playing Origin is certainly aspirational and inspirational for players,” Hasler said.

“It’s an Origin charter like no other, it’s basically a five-week camp and an extended squad is going to be important.

“Whether he plays or takes the field isn’t important at the moment. It’s getting through the weekend and then tackling the rest later.

“If all goes well you’d think he would come up for strong consideration.”

Nor did Hasler ever consider putting him on ice for the rest of 2020 once Manly’s season was shot.

Both the club and Trbojevic have sought expert advice from specialists at Australian Catholic University on how to manage the troublesome muscle.

The Sea Eagles had always insisted they would be cautious with the Manly junior, but would also return him once fit.

“Players like Tommy, they’re footballers and want to play football. It’s what they work for.

“Tomorrow is a result from the fruit of his labours.

“He doesn’t have to break or set any records. It’s probably just working his way through and getting a good stint under his belt.

“The position he is playing you can’t really dictate or manage how it’s played. He plays on instinct.”

Meanwhile Hasler said Addin Fonua-Blake’s request to negotiate with non-Sydney clubs had been in the works for some time with the powerhouse prop.

The Warriors remain the favourite to land his signature, but Hasler said Manly would not be rushed into finding a replacement with the depth in their squad.

“The individual is important, it’s about making sure they are happy,” Hasler said.

“From the human resource side it’s not too hard of a decision. From a playing perspective he is a talent and someone we will miss.”





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Infrastructure push to aid recovery


Under the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021, the government increased the budget for infrastructure development by 41% to P1.107 trillion. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL ANTONIO N. DE GUZMAN

By Luz Wendy T. Noble, Reporter

THE government’s decision to refocus its flagship infrastructure program will help the Philippine economy recover faster from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said.

“This realignment of projects, together with continued structural reforms to improve the efficiency of public investment… would help the Philippine economy recover faster from COVID-19 while continuing to lay the foundation for rapid and inclusive growth in the new normal,” IMF Resident Representative to the Philippines Yongzheng Yang said in an e-mail to BusinessWorld.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, last month approved a revised list of 104 projects worth P4.1 trillion under the “Build, Build, Build” program, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua told a Senate budget hearing on Sept. 10.

The new list included the national broadband program, an irrigation project, transportation infrastructure projects and the construction of the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines.

“We welcome the emphasis given by the government to projects related to health, digital economy (including the national ID project), transportation, and water resources,” Mr. Yang added.

The IMF official noted the Philippine government should focus on fast-tracking ongoing and shovel-ready projects that will generate more jobs and allow businesses to reopen.

“The government’s current effort to reprioritize its infrastructure investment program in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic would help make the best use of public resources. Given the urgent need to save lives and safeguard livelihoods in the wake of the pandemic, a realignment of public investment projects is necessary to provide more support to the health sector, the vulnerable people, and the affected businesses,” Mr. Yang said.

The Washington-based multilateral lender projects Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) to shrink by 3.6% this year as it factored in a slower recovery from the pandemic. It will release an update to its economic forecast in October.

PUBLIC SPENDING
As the pandemic drags on, governments around the world are seeing a decline in revenues and rise in demand for public spending.

“(It) has become even more important for governments around the world to improve the efficiency of using public resources, including for infrastructure investment,” IMF’s Mr. Yang said.

An analysis by IMF showed countries waste about a third of infrastructure spending due to inefficiencies such as corruption, delays, and cost overruns.

“The loss can surpass a staggering 50% in low-income countries. Unlocking this potential should play an important role as countries recover from the pandemic,” the IMF said in a blog.

The IMF said public investment has the potential to boost demand by improving lives, connecting markets, and building resilience against climate change and future pandemics. This can be done through investment in healthcare systems as well as digital and environmentally conscious infrastructures.

Prior to the pandemic, IMF’s review of the Philippine public investment program in 2018 showed the country fared better than average emerging market economies in terms of national and sectoral planning, budget comprehensiveness and unity, budgeting for investment, availability of funding, and monitoring of assets.

“However, the review also identified several areas for improvement and made a number of recommendations to improve performance, including in fiscal risk management, public-private partnership, and public procurement,” Mr. Yang said.

In the first semester of 2020, the government’s spending on infrastructure fell by 4.3% year on year to P297.9 billion, as the lockdown disrupted economic activity.

In June alone, infrastructure spending jumped 44.5% year on year to P62.8 billion as construction activities restarted after restrictions were eased.

Under the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021, the government increased the budget for infrastructure development by 41% to P1.107 trillion from the reduced P785.5-billion budget this year. The biggest allocation is P157.5 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highway’s network development program. — with Beatrice M. Laforga









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Labor’s election push: Wortley bows out, Federal MP ‘considering state switch’


A former federal Labor candidate is set to contest the Liberal Party’s most marginal seat at the 2022 state election, while a longtime federal MP is considering a shock shift into a safe state seat, InDaily understands.

The ALP today opened nominations for four Liberal-held electorates, as well as for the four top spots on its 2022 Legislative Council ticket – with the party’s state secretary Reggie Martin confirming he would nominate for one of those Upper House seats.

That announcement came shortly before long-time Legislative Councillor Russell Wortley today reversed his long-held determination to recontest his seat, telling InDaily he would not be a candidate for the Upper House.

Labor now expects to finalise candidates for Liberal-held Adelaide, King and Elder within weeks, as well as rubber-stamping Tony Piccolo’s move from the newly-safe seat of Light to neighbouring Schubert, where incumbent Liberal Stephan Knoll is vulnerable after a draft boundary redistribution slashed his margin to around five per cent.

InDaily understands Nadia Clancy, who garnered a 1.3 swing to Labor in Boothby after a concerted campaign at last year’s federal election, will contest Elder – a key seat the ALP needs to win to form government.

Liberal incumbent Carolyn Power’s margin is expected to be cut to just 0.1 per cent, which would make the southern-suburbs seat the Marshall Government’s most vulnerable target.

While Clancy did not comment today, sources have told InDaily she would have support “across the party” to snare the nomination, given her profile in the area after last year’s campaign.

Several insiders have also told InDaily long-time federal MP for Spence Nick Champion is giving strong consideration to a switch to Piccolo’s vacant seat of Light when nominations open there. The northern suburbs electorate has become a safe Labor stronghold under the draft boundaries.

Champion did not respond to inquiries from InDaily but it’s understood his name has been strongly linked to the seat, while a state move could appeal given he has served in Spence – formerly Wakefield – since 2007, was overlooked for a frontbench role after last year’s election and has a young family.

Left-aligned Rhiannon Pearce is expected to get the nod in King, while Peter Malinauskas’s adviser Lucy Hood is set to contest Adelaide – an intriguing prospect given her brother, south-east entrepreneur Ben Hood, is also expected to run for the Liberals in Mount Gambier.

Labor will be looking to avoid internal skirmishes as it unrolls its preselection process, but Martin’s bid for an Upper House seat had loomed as a potential headache, with incumbent Right-aligned Legislative Councillors Russell Wortley and Tung Ngo both up for re-election and Left-wingers Kyam Maher and Ian Hunter also set to recontest.

Wortley, a former Weatherill Government minister and Upper House president, has consistently – and as recently as last month – maintained he intends to re-nominate.

Russell Wortley during his time as Legislative Council president. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

However, early this afternoon he said in a statement: “I do not intend to nominate for these upcoming Legislative Council Preselections.”

“At the next election I will have served 16 years in the Legislative Council… it’s been an honour and a privilege serving as Minister for Industrial Relations and Local Government and as President of the Legislative Council,” he said.

“I have enjoyed serving the people of South Australia and in particular working within our multicultural community and look forward to continuing this work.

“The Labor Party has the good fortune of having a great depth of talent to represent the Party in the State Parliament and I will continue to work towards the election of a Labor Government in 2022.”

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Rice, sugar push up Q1 farm exports by 23%


Representative image

Despite Covid-19 and the lockdown, India saw a 23% increase in export of farm produce from April to June compared to the corresponding period last year, with rice and sugar dominating the charts, reports Vishwa Mohan.
Though Basmati tops the list of exported farm items in terms of value (Rs 8,591 crore) — accounting for a third of India’s agri export in the first quarter of 2020-21 — non-Basmati rice contributed the highest rise of Rs 2,392 crore. Overall, India recorded an increase of Rs 4,818 crore of agri export compared to 2019 Q1.
Rice, sugar contributed over 95% to agri export increase
Export of refined sugar contributed an increase of Rs 1,719 crore and export of raw sugar Rs 448 crore during the period — this means non-basmati rice and sugar (refined and raw) together contributed Rs 4,559 crore (over 95%) in total increase of agri commodities export. Though pigeon pea (tur), Bengal gram and raw groundnut oil figure at the top in percentage term increase, their contribution in value terms in total export is low compared to rice, sugar and onion during the pandemic-hit period.
In fact, export of Basmati rice recorded minor decline while other key commodities in India’s agri export basket such as tea and soya meal reported decline of 27% and 14%, respectively, during the first quarter of current financial year compared to the corresponding period in 2019.
India’s contribution to sustaining the global food supply chain through increased export amid Covid-19 situation was noted last week during the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) 35th regional conference for Asia and the Pacific, organised by Bhutan on a virtual platform.
The country’s representatives, including Union minister of state for agriculture Parshottam Rupala, spoke how the prompt measures during the lockdown period mitigated the impact of the pandemic at a time which coincided first with the peak harvest season and subsequently with fastpaced summer sowing operations during the monsoon.
Analysis of the agri export figures of April-June period shows that pigeon pea recorded highest increase of 440% (from Rs 15 crore last year to Rs 81 crore this year) while Bengal Gram recorded an increase of 407%, groundnut oil (243%) and wheat (148%).
Incidentally, rice (both Basmati and non-Basmati) and sugar (refined and raw), which together account for nearly 78% of total agri export during April-June, are the two biggest water-guzzling farm commodities — a point which experts on sustainable agriculture invariably raise while pitching for micro irrigation and diversification towards less water-consuming nutri-cereals such as millets.



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Biden speaks with Jacob Blake, hits Trump’s ‘law and order’ push during Wisconsin visit


Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke with Jacob Blake and his family Thursday during a trip to Wisconsin.

The former vice president offered an optimistic vision in the fight against systemic racism as he spoke with community members in Kenosha, a city pushed into the national spotlight after the police shooting of Blake – who is Black — sparked days of protest and violence. The unrest turned the city into the latest battleground in a summer of unrest over police brutality and racial injustice.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHARGES BIDEN VISIT TO WISCONSIN ‘PURELY POLITICAL’

And Biden took aim at President Trump, who preached a law and order theme during his own visit to Kenosha two days earlier. The former vice president claimed that Americans are “not buying” Trump’s tough talk.

The former vice president — accompanied by his wife Jill Biden — said that while meeting privately with Blake’s family earlier in the day in Milwaukee, they put him on the phone with 29-year old Blake.

“He talked about how nothing was going to defeat him. How whether he walked again or not, he was not going to give up,” Biden said.

“What I came away with was the overwhelming sense of resilience and optimism that they have about the kind of response they’re getting,” Biden explained. “His mom talked about — my wife asked to say a prayer. And his mom said a prayer. She said, ‘I’m praying for Jacob and I’m praying for the policeman as well. I’m praying that things change.’ “

Biden met in-person with Blake’s father, brother and two sisters. Blake’s mother and attorney joining by phone. Blake attorney Ben Crump tweeted that the 90 minute meeting was “very engaging.”

“It was very obvious that Vice President Biden cared, as he extended to Jacob Jr. a sense of humanity, treating him as a person worthy of consideration and prayer,” Crump said in a statement.

Blake was shot seven times in his back on August 23 as he reached into his vehicle, where Wisconsin officials later said a knife was found. Blake’s young children were in his vehicle at the time. The shooting left Blake paralyzed, according to his father. Video of the incident went viral hours later, sparking days of protests and violence.

The president toured damaged businesses and met with law enforcement during his Tuesday visit to Kenosha, but didn’t meet with Blake’s family. Trump claimed on Monday that he wouldn’t meet with them because they wanted lawyers involved.

During his trip, the president praised law enforcement and condemned the protests. He labeled the outbreak of violence in the city “domestic terrorism” and evaded answering a question posed to him about systemic racism. Trump blamed Democratic officials in Wisconsin for the violence and once again claimed that unrest would spread throughout the country if Biden’s elected president.

But Biden argued that Trump “hasn’t made inroads” with his full court press in recent weeks for law in order amid spikes of violence as demonstrations against systemic racism continue across the country.

“They’re not buying it,” he insisted.

And Biden – speaking to the 20 community leaders in attendance and the broader nationwide audience watching his comments – carried live by all three major national cable news networks – said that “we’ve got to do a lot more, a lot more than we’ve done. Because this is the first chance we’ve had in a generation in my view to deal and cut another slice off institutional racism.”

An optimistic Biden predicted that “we’re finally now getting to the point where we’re going to be addressing the original sin of this country, 400 years old … slavery and all the vestiges of it.”

“I can’t say if tomorrow God made me president, I can’t guarantee you everything gets solved in four years,” he said. Then – taking aim at the president – he emphasized that “it would be a whole better, we’d get a whole lot further down the road” if Trump isn’t re-elected.

“There’s certain things worth losing over,” he concluded, “and this is something worth losing over if you have to — but we’re not going to lose.”

Firing back after Biden’s comments, the Trump campaign repeated their charge of the past two days that Biden’s trip was “purely political.”

And Trump re-election campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh for a second straight day slammed the former vice president for failing to deliver “any denunciation of Antifa or any other left-wing agitators who have rioted in American cities from coast to coast.”

During his meeting with community members in Kenosha, the former vice president listened as those who lived through the recent unrest and violence shared their experiences.

Among those speaking was Porsche Bennett, a Black Lives Activists Kenosha organizer. Expressing her frustration, she stressed that “for so many decades we’ve been shown we don’t matter.”

Biden spent much of his time listening but also shared that he’s a “congenital optimist” and spotlighted that “I’m optimistic about the opportunity, if we seize it.”

Biden said that the death in late May of George Floyd – a Black man who died while in police custody – was a “wake-up call.” The incident sparked nationwide protests. Biden pointed to the strong support for the Black Lives Matter movement and referring steps needed combat systemic racism, he declared that “the public is ready to do these things…I promise you.”

NEW FOX NEWS POLL: BIDEN LEADING TRUMP IN WISCONSIN

This was Biden’s first visit to Wisconsin as his party’s standard bearer. The Democratic National Convention was supposed to have been held in Milwaukee, the state’s largest city. But due to health concerns over holding large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic, the convention was converted into nearly an entirely virtual affair.

The president’s stop in Kenosha this week was his third to the state this summer. Democrats carried Wisconsin in presidential elections for a quarter century. But Trump narrowly edged 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the state four years ago, helping him win the electoral college vote to capture the White House.

A new Fox News poll of likely voters in Wisconsin that was released Wednesday indicates Biden topping Trump 50%-42%. The survey – conducted Aug. 29-Sept.1 — which was entirely after the GOP convention also indicates that Wisconsin voters by a 5-point margin trust Biden over Trump to handle policing and criminal justice.



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TGA weighs push to legalise MDMA for mental health treatment


“A huge amount of people are on anti-depressants that are not working for the vast majority of patients,” Mind Medicine Australia executive director Tania de Jong said. “We just don’t have the treatments to help people get better. Most illnesses don’t have to be a life sentence.”

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MDMA and psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy involves limited doses over two or three sessions of eight to 10 hours. Advocates claim this can “fast-track” psychotherapy to produce long-lasting changes.

But the president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, John Allan, said it would be “premature” for psychedelic medicines to be approved for general use.

While the college was supportive of a clinical trial being undertaken in Melbourne and understood the desire to relieve suffering, he said “the safety and efficacy have not been proven yet”.

“I’m very concerned about people thinking this is a grand cure and safe and going out and practising in ways that aren’t safe,” he said, referring to the underground market for MDMA and psilocybin therapies.

“You don’t know what risks people are taking and you don’t know the effects on them.”

Ms de Jong pointed to phase two MDMA trials in the United States that had found more than half of participants went into remission after undergoing the therapy, a significantly better outcome than conventional psychiatric drugs.

She said the drug enabled sufferers to experience a sense of connection that enabled them to “break out of their rigid and stuck thought patterns and start to become agents of their own healing process”, likening it to “rebooting the hard drive” of a computer.

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted MDMA-assisted psychotherapy the status of a breakthrough therapy, allowing research to be fast-tracked and prompting optimism the drug could be approved there by 2021.

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Ms de Jong said she believed MDMA and psilocybin would have a larger medicinal market than cannabis as “we have such a huge mental health crisis and the need is so great”.

Associate Professor Allan said “only a few hundred people” had participated in the clinical trials undertaken to date in the US and Europe.

“Psychedelics have been around for some time. There’s only more recently some promising research evidence, but it’s too early to say they should be listed for general use,” he said.

“It’s just not proven yet, there just haven’t been enough studies … The streets of medicine, and psychiatry in particular, are littered with great ideas that went wrong.”

The TGA consultation closes on September 28, with an interim decision due in February.

Health Minister Greg Hunt declined to comment while Labor’s health spokesman, Chris Bowen, said the Opposition “respects the independence and expertise of the TGA and looks forward to its advice on this proposal”.

Greens mental health spokeswoman Rachel Siewert said the party welcomed new research into mental health treatments “and will be consulting with the sector and health professionals before taking a position on this”.

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Ken Buck calls for congressional hearings into source of recent riot funding, following push for DOJ investigation


Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., is calling for congressional hearings into the source of funding for riots that have erupted in some cities this year, one day after he pushed for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to intervene with an investigation.

Buck highlighted the recent experience by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who was harassed while with his wife by demonstrators in Washington, D.C., following a speech by President Trump at the Republican National Convention.

“[I would] absolutely work with Rand Paul. He obviously has personal experience with this. A scary personal experience with this and I’d love to work with him, as well as other senators, on making sure that there is a focus on this,” he told Fox News during a phone interview on Monday. “I think they could shine a light on this in committee hearings if they were so inclined and I hope they do.”

His comments come just one day after he called on the DOJ to investigate the source of funding for agitators who were being supplied and fed, after often coming in from out of town to wreak havoc. Buck cited citizen safety as the number one priority and said the funding source should be treated as an entity of organized crime.

“It’s one thing to arrest people that are committing crimes in the streets. It’s another thing to work your way up an organization and find out who’s funding it,” he told Fox. “The Department of Justice has the resources to do that and I think it would make the country a lot safe if we were able to take out the funding mechanism for these organizations.”

The Colorado congressman also echoed his sentiments on air with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Monday, saying the effort to defund the police coincided with a flood of funding meant to stirup nationwide protests.

KEN BUCK DOUBLES DOWN ON RAND PAUL’S CALL FOR INVESTIGATION INTO FUNDING OF VIOLENT PROTESTS

“I suspect that there is a common source,” he told Cavuto. “I’m not going to speculate on what that common source is, but it’s clear to me — the same time the left was talking about defunding the police, the left is funding in a huge way, these protests. These protesters are coming in from all over the country.”

Buck added, “They’re having transportation costs, housing costs, food costs paid for and perhaps even salaries and other benefits. It’s important to know when you’re dealing with organized crime like this, where the funding is coming from.”

He then accused local Democratic leaders of purposely magnifying the frenzy in an effort to get Trump booted from office in November.

“I think they are supporting anarchy because they want to show, or they hope to show, that the president cannot govern,” he explained. “I think they’re absolutely ending up with the exact opposite — it is the big-city mayors that are unable to govern. The president has acted in a responsible and measured way to deal with this violence.”

“But the folks that are funding this… are going to wake up on November 4th and sadly realize… that these efforts have backfired,” he added. “Americans are sick and tired of this violence.”

In contrast, Democratic nominee Joe Biden said that it’s the Trump administration that is pushing for more violence in U.S. cities.

“He can’t stop the violence – because for years he has fomented it … fires are burning and we have a president who fans the flames rather than fighting the flames,” Biden said in a Monday speech condemning the rioting that has sometimes marred what have been largely peaceful protests.

Buck also invited congressional Democrats to work with him on the issue and said the goal of the effort is bipartisan in nature.

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