Seebohm continues to impress in Doha

Emily Seebohm has set a new Commonwealth and Australian 200-metre backstroke record but was still pipped to the line by Hungary’s “The Iron Lady” at the World Short Course Swimming Championships.

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The dual Olympic gold medallist from Brisbane won the silver medal in the Doha race, to add to her silver in the 100m backstroke and bronze in the 100m individual medley.

But Hungarian super swimmer Katinka Hosszu was everywhere the 22-year-old went.

The 25-year-old FINA Swimmer Of The Year won the gold in all three of Seebohm’s races – and all three in world record times.

Seebohm was thrilled to have picked up three medals at her first world short course meet, despite being eclipsed by Hosszu, affectionately known as the “The Iron Lady” of swimming.

“Being my first World Short Course I didn’t really know what to expect and I’m over the moon with my results,” said Seebohm.

Seebohm led out for the first 50m of the 200m backstroke to set up a thrilling duel with Hosszu, who took control in the second 50m, splitting 58.36 to Seebohm’s 59.16.

Hosszu sped to a world record of 1:59.23 – the first woman under two minutes, with Seebohm in hot pursuit, setting the new Commonwealth and Australian records at 2:00.13.

Only Hosszu and previous world record holder Olympic champion Missy Franklin have swum faster.

Australia’s Madi Wilson put up a great fight to challenge for bronze before finishing fifth in 2:02.67.

Hosszu and Seebohm were soon back in the pool for the 100m individual medley final.

The Hungarian triumphed again, blasting her own world record to stop the clock at 56.86.

Great Britain’s Siobhan-Marie O’Connor snatched silver with 57.83 and Seebohm came in for bronze with a personal best of 58.19.

The men’s 400 metres freestyle final saw Jordan Harrison and Dan Smith finish fifth and eighth respectively in personal best times of 3:39.11 and 3:39.63 respectively.

The Australians were no match for the winner, Hungary’s Peter Bernek who broke Grant Hackett’s 15-year-old Championship record set in Hong Kong in 1999.

The Hungarian 22-year-old clocked 3:34.32, taking 0.69secs off Hackett’s then world record time.

Ex-Vatican bank heads have accounts seized

Two former Vatican bank managers and a lawyer have had their accounts seized as part of an investigation into allegations of embezzlement, the Vatican says.

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The bank, officially known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), said it had pressed charges against the trio some months ago and “the accounts held by the concerned individuals at the IOR have recently been seized.”

While the IOR would not provide details on the case “given the ongoing judicial enquiry”, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told Italian media on Saturday the trio was suspected of embezzling money.

Reports said they had siphoned off cash while managing the sale by the bank of 29 buildings.

In a statement the bank said the former managers and lawyer were under investigation based on “circumstances recorded between 2001 and 2008 that have emerged in the internal review process initiated in early 2013.”

The IOR has been trying to rid itself of a reputation for shady dealings, following a series of money-laundering scandals in the past.

It was the main shareholder of the Banco Ambrosiano, which collapsed in 1982 amid accusations of ties to the Mafia, while its chairman Roberto Calvi – dubbed “God’s Banker” – was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London in a suspected murder by mobsters.

Pope Francis was elected last year with a mandate to clean up the Vatican and has focused on improving transparency in the centuries-old institution.

“We are very pleased that the Vatican authorities are taking decisive action,” Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, head of the IOR board, was quoted as saying.

Jane Austen letter on display in UK

A previously unseen letter which features Jane Austen’s first mention of her upcoming novel Pride And Prejudice has gone on public display in the UK.

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The double folded sheet, sent by Austen to her sister Cassandra in January 1799, makes reference to the classic which had not yet been published.

It lay undiscovered in a box file for 60 years, along with thousands of other letters and autographs which were bequeathed to Torquay Museum in Devon.

The museum is planning to sell the letter, which it believes could fetch STG200,000 ($A365,063) at auction, and has put it on public display to give fans a last chance to view it.

Barry Chandler, curator of collections at Torquay Museum, said money raised from the sale would create an endowment fund to secure the museum’s future.

“This is probably the finest surviving example of correspondence from the novelist to her sister, and was acquired by Hester Pengelly, daughter of one of the founders of Torquay Museum, William Pengelly,” Mr Chandler said.

The letter was given to the museum in the 1930s by Mrs Pengelly as part of her collection of around 3500 autographs and letters, including ones from Charlotte Bronte, John Keats and Abraham Lincoln.

It was forgotten about for decades until 1989, when a female member of staff at the museum began examining a collection of box files in the archives and discovered it.

In the letter, Austen writes of her upcoming novel First Impressions, later renamed and published as Pride And Prejudice in 1813.

The book later became one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling more than 20 million copies worldwide.

“I do not wonder at your wanting to read first impressions again, so seldom as you have gone through it, & that so long ago,” she wrote to Cassandra.

The author, then aged 24, also congratulates her younger sister on her birthday, writing: “I wish you joy of your Birthday twenty times over”.

Dumped health food rating site reinstated

Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash said the website had initially been pulled down over concerns that it had been launched before the community educational campaign and product availability had been complete.

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鈥淚 was concerned that people would walk into supermarkets [and] there would be absolutely nothing on the shelves; and that there would be a level of confusion that would lead to not enabling this system to be successful,鈥?she said.

When the site was pulled down in February, Ms Nash was questioned about the influence of the junk food industry on the decision after it was revealed that her then senior government aide was married to the head of a lobby group working for the industry.

Ms Nash said the timing is now right to reinstate the website.

鈥淚t’s very much been a collaborative effort over recent months to make sure we get the timing right,鈥?she said.

鈥淚n terms of the launch, we needed to make sure we had an educational campaign going out there that was going to tell people what the system is and how it was going to work.鈥?br />

The website has the backing of the Australian state and federal governments as well the New Zealand government.

For the first five years, the healthy star system will be voluntary.

“It’s been made a voluntary system because there is an understanding that it takes some time for companies to make the effective change,” Assistant Minister Nash said.

Public Health Association head Michael Moore welcomed the move.

“It’s been a rocky road to get here, but we actually have a world first,” he said at the website鈥檚 launch.

“We need people to think about the food that they’re choosing, and [get them] to select the most nutritious food – and the system helps them do it.”

The Heart Foundation also welcomed the reinstatement of the website, hailing it as a significant step in tackling the 63 per cent of the population that is obese or overweight.

“This star system will help drive food reformulation, which will help reduce salt, fat and sugar in some of the more popular products in supermarkets,” Heart Foundation chief executive Mary Barry said at the launch.

Labor in box seat in Fisher by-election

Labor is poised to secure a remarkable victory in a by-election for the Adelaide seat of Fisher.

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With the final result unlikely to be declared until pre-poll and postal votes are counted next week, Labor looks to have secured an eight per cent swing in a seat previously considered to be a Liberal one.

First preference votes from all nine booths on Saturday night showed Labor candidate Nat Cook edging ahead of the Liberals’ Heidi Harris on a two-candidate preferred basis.

The results put Ms Cook ahead 51 per cent to 49, despite trailing in her primary vote.

ABC election analyst Antony Green says the result will cause “huge recriminations” for the state and federal Liberals.

“This is an eight per cent swing towards a 12-year-old state government in a seat Labor hasn’t won since the 1985 state election,” he said.

“If Labor has run a half-decent pre-poll and postal campaign, then they will win Fisher.”

Mr Green said the Liberals would need to win 52 per cent of pre-poll and postal votes to claim victory, a result he said seemed unlikely.

The Liberals’ primary vote was unchanged from the 35 per cent it received at the March state election when it lost to long-serving independent Bob Such, who died in October.

Early results had the Liberals firmly in front, with independent Daniel Woodyatt also polling strongly.

But Labor surged ahead after favourable polling at several large booths.

If Labor wins Fisher, it will have a lower house majority in its own right for the first time since Premier Jay Weatherill scraped to power at the March state election.

A Labor win would prove a major blow to the Liberals’ chances of challenging legislation and raise questions about the leadership of Steven Marshall.

Labor has only held Fisher for one term – from 1985 to 1989 – since the seat was created in 1970.

The South Australian Electoral Commission will start counting postal votes on Monday and pre-poll votes on Tuesday.

Picasso silver plate stolen in Miami

Police are investigating the theft, which apparently occurred overnight, a police source told AFP.

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The 1956 work, “Visage aux mains,” one in a series of 20 silver plates by the famous Spanish artist, disappeared from one of the many exhibition halls set up around Miami in parallel to the annual Art Basel festival.

“I’ve been doing art shows all my life,” David Smith, owner of the Amsterdam-based Leslie Smith Gallery, which owned the Picasso work, told the Miami Herald. “I’ve never, ever had anything stolen.”

The 16.5-inch (40-centimeter) plate, featuring a rudimentary face and hands, had been installed at the Art Miami display on Monday.

According to Smith, in Miami for the art fair, a security guard saw the plate during regular rounds on Thursday night, but when the collector arrived Friday morning, it was gone.

The exhibition hall is guarded 24 hours a day, but there aren’t security cameras everywhere.

The plate was the only item to disappear from the gallery, which is exhibiting a number of even more valuable items, including a Picasso ceramic valued at $365,000, Smith said.

But the plate’s small size makes it easy to hide, he suggested, adding that the theft had been reported to an international registry of stolen art aimed at blocking black-market sales.

Tens of thousands of collectors, museum curators, art lovers and tourists come to Miami each year for Art Basel, the US installation of a festival created in Switzerland in 1970.

Parallel exhibits, aimed at taking advantage of the influx of art-minded visitors, also spread over the city.

Aussie kayakers learning from the best

Australian kayakers Naomi Flood and Jo Brigden-Jones will continue to soak up lessons from New Zealand world champion Lisa Carrington on their road to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

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The pair are competing at the Blue Lakes regatta in Rotorua this weekend at the end of a three-week camp in Queenstown, and their time with Carrington has already paid dividends.

Although Carrington won Saturday’s K1 500m in one minute 55.97 seconds, Flood was just 0.78secs behind in second place, while Brigden-Jones finished third in 1.57.93.

“That’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to her in a final,” Flood said.

“Lisa’s the best paddler in the world and she’s only three hours away, so it’s madness not to come over and train with her.

“She’ll help us more than we’ll help her, but it does give her a little bit of a gauge too.

“She’s such a good trainer and she’s so professional in everything she does – it’s certainly raising our level as individual paddlers.”

Flood and Brigden-Jones, part of the Australian K4 at the 2012 London Olympics, finished seventh in the K2 women’s 500m at the world championships in August.

They combined again in Rotorua on Saturday to beat Carrington and Jaimee Lovett over the same distance, stopping the watches at 1:44.67 to the Kiwi pair’s second-placed 1:45.48.

Flood and Brigden are keen to return for the New Zealand national championships in February, emulating fellow Australians Lachlan Tame and Ken Wallace, who have been to the last two New Zealand championships.

“Whatever the boys do, it seems to work for them. We’re so close to each other – I don’t know why we don’t join forces more often and this is definitely the start of something for us leading into the next two years,” Flood said.

Adelaide down Wanderers in A-League

Argentine ace Marcelo Carrusca and his Adelaide United teammates have toyed with Western Sydney in a 2-0 romp to leave the Wanderers’ A-League campaign in ruin.

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Carrusca scored one goal and set up Fabio Ferreria for the other in Adelaide’s stylish Saturday night triumph at Coopers Stadium.

The Wanderers, winless from nine league games this season, fly to Morocco on Sunday ahead of a December 14 date with Mexico’s Cruz Azul in the World Club Challenge.

But the Asian champions are doomed for a gloomy domestic campaign on the evidence of their efforts against a sizzling Adelaide.

The Reds won with great panache, producing 26 shots to the Wanderers’ lonely one to delight the parochial 12,122-strong Adelaide crowd.

Carrusca opened scoring for the third-placed Reds against an overwhelmed Wanderers, who lost captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley in the 17th minute.

Topor-Stanley was initially yellow-carded for a needless ankle clip on Carrusca. Just two minutes later, he copped another yellow after deemed to deliberately handball.

Adelaide then put their collective foot to the floor with eye-catching flair, unleashing wave upon wave of attack.

Their breakthrough came when Spanish attacker Cirio arrowed a cut-back pass to Carrusca, who sweetly caressed a left-footer into the net from seven metres out.

Adelaide’s complete command was evidenced by halftime statistics: 10 shots to none; 72 per cent possession; 311 passes to just 128.

And the 10-man Wanderers were powerless to turn the tide in the second half with Ferreria sealing their losing fate in the 55th minute.

The Portuguese flyer steamed toward goal and laid off to Carrusca who instantly delivered an audacious chip back into the winger’s path which Ferreria then blasted into net, via a far-post rebound.

Some 15 minutes later the duo set up what almost became a team goal for the ages: consecutive showy back-heel passes to each other in an attacking chain which ended with Cirio in space just metres from goal.

But the Spaniard spoilt the potential highlight reel by muffing the shot – one of several missed chances for the Reds.

Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau lauded the win, which extended the Reds’ unbeaten streak at home to 14 games.

“We played a very good game, we played very good football,” Gombau said.

“But it’s true they were with 10 (men). The aim is to play like this against 11.”

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said Topor-Stanley’s send off changed the tune of the fixture.

“In the first 20 minutes, they were not better than us,” he said.

“But the game changes with that send off – 70 minutes with 10 men, a team that is playing a third game in a week, it’s difficult.

Rains lash disaster-weary Philippines

Heavy rain and strong winds are pounding the Philippines as millions shelter from a giant storm threatening more devastation to areas yet to recover from a deadly super typhoon last year.

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Across the country, people huddled in evacuation centres and homes as Typhoon Hagupit churned towards the disaster-plagued Southeast Asian nation, with the eye of the storm expected to hit on Saturday night.

“This is it. I know you are tired, not enough sleep, not enough food, too much coffee,” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said as he called for a final effort to bring more people in vulnerable areas to safe shelters.

“This is our last push. Every person we can save now is one less we have to look for after the typhoon passes.”

Roxas was speaking at a nationally televised planning conference from the eastern island of Samar, which was forecast to be the first hit when Hagupit arrives bringing with it winds of 185 kilometres an hour.

Hagupit is expected to take three days to cut across the Philippines, passing over mostly poor farming central regions, then possibly the southern regions of the densely populated capital of Manila.

The local Pagasa weather agency and the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center have projected slightly different paths for Hagupit, with the American service predicting it will get closer to Manila.

Regardless, tens of millions of people live in the typhoon’s path, including those in the central Philippines who are still struggling to recover from the devastation of Super Typhoon Haiyan 13 months ago.

Haiyan was the strongest storm ever recorded on land, with winds of 315 kilometres an hour.

It also generated tsunami-like storm surges that claimed more than 7350 lives, making it one of the Philippines’ deadliest natural disasters.

In Tacloban, one of the cities worst-hit by Haiyan, thousands of traumatised typhoon survivors crammed into schools, churches and other evacuation centres on Saturday.

“We are afraid. People are panicking,” Alma Gaut, 36, whose house was destroyed and mother died during Haiyan, said as she huddled in the second floor of a university with more than 1000 others.

“All we have is a tattered, plastic sheet to sleep on. My grandmother is already feeling the cold.”

Outside, the town appeared almost deserted as heavy rain fell and trees bent with the wind in what residents feared was an ominous prelude to another disaster.

Local media outlets showed steadily worsening weather on Saturday afternoon in the eastern regions facing the Pacific Ocean, with waves more than one metre high pounding coasts and flash flooding in some towns.

In Catbalogan, the capital of neighbouring Samar island, authorities were preparing for water surges more than one storey high.

More than 10,000 people had been ordered into safe buildings, according to mayor Stephany Uy-Tan.

“We don’t want people to panic but I ordered forced evacuations so they would be safe,” he said.

In the eastern region of Bicol alone, authorities said they were aiming for 2.5 million people – half the local population – to be in evacuation centres by Saturday night.