Vic police chase fugitive behind bars

A man has been remanded into custody on 44 charges after two weeks on the run following a car chase in Melbourne in which two police vehicles were rammed.

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Sean Paul Murphy appeared before an out-of-sessions hearing on Friday night charged with 44 offences, including allegations he waved a fake gun at pedestrians during a police chase.

The 26-year-old, who was was arrested earlier on Friday, had been evading authorities since he abandoned his vehicle in Melbourne’s CBD on March 29 following a police chase.

Sergeant Justin Mercovich said Murphy waved what appeared to be a handgun at pedestrians during the police pursuit.

“The accused has brazenly waved an imitation firearm with the intention of invoking fear,” the policeman told the Friday night hearing.

“The accused yelled ‘get out of the f***ing way’ and was waving the gun in an attempt to get people to get out of his way.”

Police began pursuing Murphy’s vehicle after he allegedly drove into their vehicles when they tried to arrest him over suspected drug trafficking.

As Murphy tried to drive off, the officers used a baton to smash Murphy’s windscreen while yelling at him to stop and get out of the vehicle.

Murphy was also pepper-sprayed but managed to drive away.

As police pursued Murphy through the CBD, he allegedly threw fistfuls of cash from his window.

Police say the 26-year-old resisted arrest on Friday morning when officers responded to a tip about a man seen packaging drugs in his car in West Melbourne.

“It took five police members to restrain him,” Sgt Mercovich said.

Murphy, who police have not been able to interview because of his drug-affected state, has been remanded into custody to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday.

Fifita playing himself into Blues jumper

Andrew Fifita is playing himself into a NSW jumper and he’s dragging Cronulla into NRL title contention along the way.

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While Laurie Daley is sweating on the health of first-choice prop Aaron Woods, who is touch and go for Game I, his mind will be put at ease by the fact Fifita has managed to rediscover his barnstorming best.

While Fifita has been guilty of being one the competition’s most fickle performers over his career, after six rounds he’s been proven himself one of the most in-form big men going around.

He is ranked third for metres made by forwards this year, only behind North Queensland’s Jason Taumalolo (176m) and Woods (173m), according to Fox Sports Stats.

Last week, he put in a match-winning effort in their 25-20 victory over the Gold Coast including a bruising second half display in which he ran for 140 metres in 40 minutes and scored a crucial four-pointer.

And it is that platform upon which the Sharks have come out of the blocks to be fourth at 4-2 and aiming for their fourth straight win against Canberra on Sunday.

The Sharks are fifth in the league for metres made but more importantly, top ranked for metres conceded with just 1286m per game.

Coach Shane Flanagan says Fifita is getting things right off the field after being plagued by personal problems and distractions throughout his career and tips him to return to the NSW fold after being dropped by Daley last year.

“He’s getting better and working hard off the field on all the things he needs to do, the little things in his game that will bring him some publicity,” Flanagan said.

“He’s running really straight, he’s making some big metres and playing some big minutes for us. Defensively he’s been sound and we’ll just keep working away.”

While the Sharks will go in against Canberra without suspended veteran Luke Lewis, they would be smelling the Raiders’ blood in the water.

Already missing Sia Soliola (arm) and Jeff Lima (hand), Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was handed fresh injury concerns late in the week when five-eighth Blake Austin went down with a hamstring strain which is expected to keep him out for a fortnight.

Paul Vaughan (ankle) and Josh Hodgson (thumb) are also struggling to take the field.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Cronulla have won eight of their past 11 matches at Canberra Stadium

* These two teams are being awarded the most penalties with the Raiders receiving 10.2 per game and the Sharks nine

* The Raiders will be aiming to win their 200th match at Canberra Stadium in what will be their 310th match there.

Source: Fox Sports Stats.

Tigers’ Teddy enters NRL elite

The Wests Tigers are in no rush to lock up James Tedesco long term despite the star fullback rocketing into the stratosphere of the NRL’s elite this year.

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A quick glance at Tedesco’s numbers show why he is being spoken about as a smokey for not only Laurie Daley’s NSW side, but also for next month’s Test against New Zealand.

Despite his side being 2-4, the 23-year-old leads the league for tries (eight), line breaks (eight) and tackle busts (36), according to Fox Sports Stats.

Hit by injury from the first game of his career, suffering an ACL tear in his 2012 debut which kept him out for the next 12 months, Tedesco is being sized up for representative honours this year.

He has single-handedly kept his side in many games, scoring 25 tries in his past 30 appearances.

He also shapes as a key on Sunday to breaking their four-game losing streak against Melbourne, after destroying them in the corresponding game last year.

In that match, also played at Leichhardt Oval, Tedesco broke the Storm open with two tries, set up another two, ran 151 metres, made two line breaks, had another two line-break assists and busted nine tackles.

Tedesco is off contract at the end of next season and will be one of the hottest commodities on the market.

And while coach Jason Taylor only had superlatives for his No.1, he said they had not begun negotiations for an extension.

“His start to the season has been superb,” Taylor said.

“At the back end of last year, we started to find him more, we started to put him in those positions where he could create that stuff and finish things off and we’ve started the season doing that as well.

“The guys provide him with good opportunity, which I think is important, but I think he’s as good as any player in the game and I think he’ll continue to prove that – he’s still very young.”

Talks with Faulkner, husband lawyers fail

Lawyers negotiating on behalf of jailed Australian woman Sally Faulkner and her estranged Lebanese-American husband have failed to reach agreement, leaving Ms Faulkner as well as a Nine Network news crew in a Lebanese jail facing kidnapping charges.

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Ghassan Moughabghab, Ms Faulkner’s lawyer, says although Judge Rami Adbullah had “pushed” Ali Elamine and Ms Faulkner to reach agreement over the custody of the couple’s two children, Lahala, 6, and Noah, 4, behind-the-scene talks had broken down.

The children are at the centre of a failed child recovery operation that has also resulted in the arrest of Nine Network journalist Tara Brown and her 60 Minutes crew, Benjamin Williamson, David Ballment and Stephen Rice.

They are among a total of seven people facing charges over the incident.

The two others are believed to be members of the child recovery agency hired for the operation. They have been named in the Lebanese media as Britons Craig Michael and Adam Whittington.

“I met the lawyer of Mr Elamine, he put his conditions, we accepted all of them and yet now I am told they will not accept the agreement,” Mr Moughabghab told Australian Associated Press.

As part of the agreement, Ms Faulkner would give up custody of her children, proceed with the divorce in Lebanon and would be allowed to see her children, Mr Moughabghab said. All that was left to settle was whether she could see them in Lebanon, Australia or a third country such as nearby Cyprus, he said.

“She will even give up the sole custody granted to her by the Australian (Family) Court if he agrees to drop the charges,” Mr Moughabghab said.

“It seems Mr Elamine is not interested in a settlement,” he said. “Maybe he wants to savour his joy at her predicament a bit longer.”

In refusing to reach an agreement with his wife, Mr Elamine is also reportedly not keen to drop the charges against the 60 Minutes team amid allegations the Nine Network contributed $115,000 to the child recovery operation.

The network has refused to comment on the allegations.

Mr Elamine denied the two parties had been close to reaching agreement, saying “Faulkner’s lawyer is trying to draft something but it still has to go through the legal process”.

Mr Moughabghab, who has been pursuing Mr Elamine over the custody dispute for nine months, said he had not even been able to serve court papers on the children’s father.

“Every time we attempted to present him with the documents he disappeared and after about a month-and-a-half, the clerk of the court was too frightened to keep going to his place,” Mr Moughabghab said.

Ms Faulkner, who along with Ms Brown is being held in Baabda women’s prison, is facing a difficult situation, her lawyer said.

“She is not accustomed to be in prison, especially in a Lebanese prison, it is not something very nice to experience but she is being visited regularly by representatives from the embassy who are helping her,” he said.

The attempt to snatch the children as they were walking with Mr Elamine’s mother and a nanny on April 7 was captured on CCTV and appeared to show one of the women being shoved as their children were taken.

The children were returned to their father soon after and their mother and the journalists were arrested along with the child recovery team.

The hearing resumes on Monday.

Warriors resolve secures win

The Warriors have timed their run impeccably to win a seesawing NRL match 24-20 against Canterbury at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

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The Bulldogs looked in control in taking a 14-8 lead into halftime but tries to Jonathan Wright and Tuimoala Lolohea early in the second spell turned the game around for the Warriors.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said the resolve his team showed was pleasing, particularly given the loss of fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck with a knee injury barely 15 minutes into the first half.

“We had to face a bit of adversity after we lost Roger pretty early in the game and had to do a big reshuffle,” he said.

“It certainly tests your character to be able to do that, and I don’t think we’ve had too many games here where we’ve come from behind, particularly against a quality side like the Bulldogs.

“The way we stuck at it, we were patient and took our opportunities when we got them, and we were desperate defensively right at the end there.”

The extent of Tuivasa-Sheck’s injury was unclear, with the Kiwi fullback expected to undergo scans on Monday.

Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was left disappointed at the result, saying his team just didn’t manage the game well enough.

“They just had large, large pieces of possession at the start of both halves – I think in the first 20, it was about 70 per cent and on the back of the penalty count, they got away to a flyer,” Hasler said.

“I think the game was there for the taking, I think we had the game well within our grasp, and we’re pretty disappointed we let this game slip away.”

Tries to David Fusitua and Blake Ayshford in the opening 15 minutes gave the Warriors a useful 8-0 lead before Canterbury hit back with a brace to 21-Test Kiwi Sam Perrett within the space of four minutes.

Ahead 10-8 after half an hour, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 14-8 right on halftime. sharp work from Perrett down the right putting Kerrod Holland over.

The Warriors came out firing in the second stanza, tries to Wright, Lolohea and Ayshford giving them a 24-14 lead with five minutes remaining.

But Holland’s second try of the night in the 75th minute tested their resolve right to the final whistle.

Former TV ‘Apprentices’ denounce Trump presidential bid

Trump’s one-time admirers, most from racial minorities, urged the New York billionaire to tamp down his divisive rhetoric as he campaigns to succeed Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 8 election.

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“We are all disappointed and in some ways shocked to see what is being spewed from Donald regarding his views on women, immigrants, and the list goes on,” said Randal Pinkett, winner of the 2005 fourth season of the reality television show.

“We strongly condemn Donald’s campaign of sexism, xenophobia, racism, violence and hate,” he said at a news conference in Manhattan. Pinkett said Trump “is not worthy of the highest office of the land,” and said there had been glimpses of those attitudes in private conversations and time spent off-screen with Trump during the making of the TV show.

Running for 14 seasons, “The Apprentice” gave Trump a national platform, and his often blunt and unfiltered style helped make the show a major hit.

The show featured groups of business-minded contestants vying for a titular apprenticeship in Trump’s organization. At its peak, nearly 21 million people watched the show.

Trump’s proposals to ban Muslims from entering the United States and to build a wall at the Mexican border have drawn criticism even within his party. His campaign has been accused of tacitly encouraging violence at large and rowdy rallies where Trump supporters have at times clashed with protesters.

On Friday evening, as protests broke out at a rally in Hartford, Connecticut, Trump belted out his usual response: “Get them out of here!”

“I always say ‘don’t hurt that person, right?'” he said.

Pinkett told Reuters he had contacted former “apprentices” and said their effort was independent and timed to precede New York state’s crucial primary election on Tuesday. At the news conference, Pinkett was joined by former “Apprentice” contestants Tara Dowdell and Kwame Jackson; another former contestant, Marshawn Evans Daniels, participated via video link.

‘Failing wannabes’

Their efforts seemed unlikely to dent Trump’s comfortable advantage in New York opinion polls against Republican rivals Ohio Governor John Kasich and US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Trump dismissed his former aspiring protégés on Friday as “failing wannabes out of hundreds of contestants.”

“How quickly they forget. Nobody would know who they are if it weren’t for me,” he said in a statement. “They just want to get back into the limelight like they had when they were with Trump. Total dishonesty and disloyalty.”

Trump pulled ahead of Cruz and Kasich this week in the national Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll. Among Republicans, 45 percent support Trump, compared with 29 percent for Cruz and 21 percent for Kasich.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are tied at 47 percent. The poll had a credibility interval of 4.6 percentage points.

New York Post endorsement

In an apparent bid to establish a more presidential footing, Trump turned from his usual platform of Twitter to the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal to denounce the Republican National Committee over a nomination process he said was rigged.

Friday’s piece, along with an endorsement by tabloid newspaper the New York Post, signaled a possible detente with media magnate Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp owns both newspapers. A News Corp spokesman declined to comment on the relationship between the two billionaires.

Murdoch took to Twitter last year to denounce Trump’s comments that many illegal immigrants from Mexico were bringing crime to the United States, tweeting: “Trump wrong.” The Journal in July called Trump a “catastrophe” in a withering editorial.

Trump on Wednesday met privately with Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly after a feud that had lasted months. Another Murdoch-controlled company, 21st Century Fox, owns the channel.

NBC, the network that aired “The Apprentice,” cut ties with Trump last year after he described some Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. Trump’s other well-known NBC venture, the Miss USA pageant and Miss Universe pageants, was also dropped from the line-up around that time.

Other “Apprentice” contestants have backed Trump, including actors Stephen Baldwin, Gary Busey and Lou Ferrigno, former basketball star Dennis Rodman and reality television star Jesse James.

Pinkett, however, in remarks directed at Trump, said: “I am calling, we are calling, for you to do better.”

Brazil president impeachment process starts

Pro-impeachment lawmakers have chanted “Dilma Out” in the lower house of Brazil Congress as it opened a raucous three-day debate on whether to impeach President Dilma Rousseff on charges of manipulating budget accounts.

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Pro-government demonstrators took to the streets in several states as the debate began on Friday, according to local media.

Major trade unions and landless peasant movements planned bigger, nationwide protests on Sunday, when the debate is set to culminate with a vote that Rousseff is widely expected to lose.

The government lost a last-ditch appeal on Thursday before the Supreme Court to halt the impeachment process, which could bring further instability or even chaos to Latin America’s largest economy.

Rousseff is accused of manipulating budget accounts in 2014 to secure her re-election. She has strongly rejected the accusation, branding the impeachment process “a coup.”

The president, a former leftist guerrilla, was to address the nation in a televised speech later on Friday, a presidential source told Reuters,

As lawmakers called for her ouster, Attorney General Jos Eduardo Cardozo addressed the house in Rousseff’s defence, calling the impeachment process a “violent act with no parallel against democracy.”

“History will never forgive those who broke with democracy,” Cardozo said, as ruling lawmakers shouted: “There won’t be a coup.”

While the budget violations alleged against Rousseff are serious, she has not been accused of committing any crime or participating in the massive corruption scandal engulfing state-run oil company Petrobras.

But she is highly unpopular and more than a million protesters called for her impeachment in protests last month. The move is widely seen as a vote of no-confidence in a leader who has presided over the country’s worst recession in decades.

After several allied parties abandoned Rousseff’s coalition in recent weeks, the opposition is expected to gain the two-thirds of votes in the 513-seat lower house to send the process to the Senate.

If Rousseff is ousted, it would end the 13-year rule of her leftist Workers’ Party, which has lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty and is overwhelmingly supported by the poor.

One of the authors of the impeachment filing, former justice minister Miguel Reale Jr., opened the debate by saying the process to oust Rousseff reflected the will of the people.

Polls show that roughly two-thirds of Brazilians support impeachment.

“She was extremely irresponsible and knocked out the country,” Reale Jr. said.

If her impeachment is approved by the lower house, the Senate must then vote on whether to go ahead with putting Rousseff on trial for breaking budget laws.

If it agrees to do so, in a vote expected on May 11, Rousseff would automatically be suspended and replaced by Vice President Michel Temer, pending a trial that could last six months.

Temer, who would serve out Rousseff’s term until 2018 if she is ousted by the Senate, has little popular support. He would face a daunting task restoring confidence in a country where dozens of political leaders, including his close associates, are under investigation for corruption.

Wire-tap pardons prompt Macedonia protests

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov says he stands by his decision to grant pardons to 56 officials in a wire-tapping scandal despite days of street protests and mounting national and international calls to change his mind.

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The amnesty granted by Ivanov this week prevents the 56 government and opposition officials from being investigated over revelations of a vast wire-tapping operation that has caused a long-running political crisis in the Balkan nation.

Macedonia’s three leading political parties wrote to Ivanov on Friday urging him to withdraw the pardons and the United States and other governments have urged him to reconsider.

Ivanov said in a national address that he was standing firm on his decision, but said that any of the 56 people who had received pardons and wanted to prove their innocence in court could ask for the pardon to be overturned in their case.

“I think the decision protects the state interest and I inform you that I am standing by it,” Ivanov said.

“Anyone who thinks that a right has been taken from him or that I have done him a bad favour, or wants to prove his innocence in court, I call on him personally, in a written form, to submit a request to annul the decision regarding him,” he added.

Ivanov also warned diplomats to be measured in their response to the pardons. Ambassadors from EU countries attended a news conference by a special prosecutor in Skopje on Thursday who said she would continue to investigate the wire-tap affair.

“I call on the representatives of the international community to be careful in their behaviour and activities and to remind them that they might be misinterpreted,” Ivanov said.

European Council President Donald Tusk warned Macedonia on Friday not to let the political crisis risk its ties with the European Union and NATO, which it wants to join.

Macedonia set an early parliamentary election for June 5 on Friday, as called for by an EU-brokered deal to end the political crisis, although the opposition has said it will boycott the polls.

Turnbull tackles touchy subjects with China president

From sport and tourism to hot-button issues like the South China Sea, Malcolm Turnbull managed to cover quite a bit of ground during his first visit as prime minister to Australia’s most important trading partner.

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There were plenty of smiles and handshakes and all the pomp and ceremony that’s to be expected from an official visit to China.

There was the familiar line about how strong Australia’s relationship with the rising super power is and how much deeper it can get and plenty of pats on the back over the China free-trade agreement.

In a first for an Australian prime minister, Mr Turnbull was hosted at banquets by both Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Chinese President Xi Jinping, signalling the importance of the relationship to China.

All up he spent four hours with both men, during a trip that lasted around 36 hours.

But looming in the background have been the touchy issues of China’s actions in the South China Sea and an oversupply of steel that’s hurting Australia’s own industry.

Mr Turnbull reiterated to China’s leaders that Australia wants the territorial dispute settled peacefully and in accordance with international law, having earlier this month labelled China’s actions in the South China Sea “counterproductive”.

He rejected local media reports that his stance could jeopardise Australia’s economic ties with China and used an important speech to almost 2000 business leaders in Shanghai to urge China to remain committed to working towards open markets and the rule of law.

He also questioned Premier Li about China’s steel oversupply, following South Australian steel maker Arrium being placed into voluntary administration.

The prime minister spent plenty of time talking about trade and innovation during his visit but he made it clear he didn’t shy away from talking about the difficult stuff either.

Scott calls for Morgan’s Roos callup

Test prop Matt Scott has called for Michael Morgan’s Kangaroos selection after the pivot was hailed as the man who helped North Queensland avoid an NRL premiership hangover.

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Morgan had four try assists and crossed himself in the 71st minute, finishing a wonderful set-piece to ice a 44-18 rout of South Sydney in Townsville on Friday night.

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga is considering Morgan as a bench utility among a swag of changes for the one-off Test against New Zealand at Newcastle on May 6.

Morgan’s Cowboys and Queensland teammate Scott believed the playmaker had already shown he could step up to representative level as a Maroons bench utility.

“We saw what he can do in the Origin arena off the bench last year,” Scott said.

“I think he is the perfect utility.

“He’s capable of playing so many positions.”

A Kangaroos call-up would cap a remarkable 12 months for Morgan.

He played all three State of Origin games off the bench under Meninga last year despite the availability of Daly Cherry-Evans, helping Queensland win their ninth series in 10 years.

And he also set up the last-gasp try that sent the 2015 NRL grand final into golden point, ultimately sealed by North Queensland.

“He has improvement with his ball playing, his confidence has grown,” Scott said of Morgan.

“He’s calling the ball away from JT (Johnathan Thurston) a lot more, so that’s good to see.

“I would love to see him in the (Test) team.”

Cowboys coach Paul Green said Morgan had helped North Queensland improve in 2016, avoiding the dreaded premiership hangover.

He said Morgan had helped the Cowboys improve organisation on their right edge which incredibly has not conceded a try in seven weeks.

“I was asked a lot before this season where do we improve,” Green said.

“And I think last year they (right edge) were getting used to each other particularly in defence.

“But so far this year that has been our strongest side.

“That’s where our improvement will come.”

Green also paid tribute to Scott who set the tone against the giant Rabbitohs pack by pulling off some fearsome early hits.

However, Scott was placed on report for a 66th minute tackle that forced a dazed Greg Inglis off the field.

“I said to him after the game, he’s our leader of the pack and that is what we want to see from him,” Green said.

“That (early hits) really set the tone.”