The Guardian 2024-03-02 10:32:58


Dunkley byelection live results: Labor holds seat as Liberal candidate concedes defeat

Jodie Belyea thanks the people for Dunkley, ending with “I am Frankston tough” and finishes up her speech to mass applause and Richard Marles banging on the lecturn.

Peter Dutton wins modest swing but Labor triumphs

Peter Dutton wins modest swing but Labor triumphs in Dunkley byelection

Liberal candidate Nathan Conroy wins swing of more than 3% but well short of the 6.3% required, leaving Labor’s Jodie Belyea as the newest federal MP

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Peter Dutton’s Liberal party has won a modest swing in the Dunkley byelection but fallen short in the Labor seat vacated by the death of the popular local MP Peta Murphy.

The Liberal candidate, Nathan Conroy, has currently received 47.5% of the two-party preferred vote, a swing of more than 3% to the opposition, well short of the 6.3% swing required to win the seat off the Albanese government.

The deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, said Labor was increasingly confident of victory, and after 8.40pm the party declared it believed Jodie Belyea had won the seat. Conroy called Belyea shortly after to concede defeat.

Conroy told his supporters in Dunkley that the Liberals had “sent [Anthony] Albanese a message tonight”.

“Cost of living is in crisis, healthcare is in crisis, housing is in crisis … crime is on the rise, [and] community infrastructure is being cut,” he said.

“The result didn’t go our way tonight, but at the next election we are coming for Albanese and his government.”

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With cost of living the number one issue with voters, the results suggest that high inflation and 13 interest rate rises have contributed to a small protest vote against Labor.

The Albanese government campaigned on its decision to carve up stage-three tax cuts more in favour of low- and middle-income earners to help struggling households and focused on the Coalition’s lack of alternative policies.

On primary votes, Conroy was on about 39%, up about 7%, with 59% of the primary vote counted. Belyea was on a primary vote of more than 40%, marginally up, but would be disadvantaged by a drop in the Greens’ primary of more than 4%.

The Liberals appeared to have benefited from a stronger vote in the southern end of the electorate, around the wealthier Mount Eliza area. But the opposition did not fully capitalise on the absence of One Nation and United Australia party candidates, who won 8% at the 2022 poll.

The deputy Liberal leader, Sussan Ley, described the result as a “strong swing” and “an endorsement” for Dutton’s leadership.

The shadow home affairs minister, James Paterson, said if replicated nationally Labor stood to lose Aston and McEwen in Victoria and would be forced to govern in minority.

The shadow immigration minister, Dan Tehan, said the byelection result showed the government “hasn’t done enough on cost of living”.

Marles told Sky News: “Whatever the result, in terms of who wins or loses the seat, there is something to be learned in hearing the Australian people speak.

“The primary vote has held up, it’s a huge achievement for Jodie [Belyea]. We feel very confident in our prime minister.”

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Single orca seen killing great white shark off South African coast

Single orca seen killing great white shark off South African coast

Attack on juvenile is thought to be first known time a lone orca has hunted down a great white

It is a smash and grab that has stunned scientists: in less than two minutes, a killer whale attacked and consumed a great white shark before swimming off with the victim’s liver in its mouth.

Experts say the event off the coast of Mossel Bay in South Africa offers new insights into the predatory behaviour of orcas.

While orcas have previously been documented hunting sharks, dolphins and even whales solo, the newly reported event is thought to be the first known time a lone orca has hunted down the world’s largest predatory fish.

“Killer whales, or orcas, usually team up when they hunt, although they can hunt solitarily,” said Dr Alison Towner, of Rhodes University, who led research into the discovery. “The unusual aspect was witnessing Starboard, the killer whale, hunting a white shark alone and in a remarkably rapid timeframe.”

The events, which occurred on 18 June 2023, are documented in the African Journal of Marine Science. It is a sequence that would not be out of place in a Spielberg movie.

The team report how a boat was launched shortly after 2pm in response to sightings of Starboard and another killer whale known as Port. As the vessel crossed the water to follow the pair, the researchers describe how a smell of shark liver and the sight of diving kelp gulls indicated a recent kill.

The subsequent attack was rapid: at 3.02pm a juvenile white shark appeared at the surface of the water. Starboard appeared directly after it.

The whale “gripped the left pectoral fin of the shark and thrust forward with the shark several times before eventually eviscerating it”, the report says. Minutes later Starboard was seen with “a bloody piece of peach-coloured liver in its mouth”.

The attack was also documented by researchers and tourists onboard another vessel that had been involved in shark cage diving activities.

The researchers report that all other recorded events in the region involving orcas preying on sharks involved two to six orcas, and typically took about two hours.

However, while Starboard was able to kill the juvenile great white shark – estimated to have been about 2.5 metres in length and to have weighed about 100kg – alone, the team suggest he may need to cooperate with others to tackle larger prey. Adult great white sharks can grow to 6.5 metres and 2.5 tonnes.

Previous research by the team revealed how Port and Starboard – so-called because their dorsal fins are bent in opposite directions – have been hunting together off the coast of South Africa in recent years.

The pair appear to have a predilection for energy-rich shark livers, although the researchers say it remains unknown how orcas open large sharks to feed on these organs.

Their activities have raised concerns that various shark species, including great white sharks, could be displaced from coastal sites.

Dr Primo Micarelli, a co-author of the new study from the Shark Studies Centre and Siena University, who witnessed the attack by Starboard, said seeing the orca carry the liver of a great white shark past the vessel he was on was unforgettable. But he added: “Despite my awe for these predators, I’m increasingly concerned about the coastal marine ecology balance.”

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Renowned New York designer and style icon, dies aged 102

Iris Apfel, renowned New York designer and style icon, dies aged 102

Fashion personality who found fame in her 80s went from copywriter at Women’s Wear Daily to design authority whose projects included the White House

  • Iris Apfel – a life in pictures

Iris Apfel, the interior designer and fashion tastemaker who found fame as an octogenarian, has died aged 102.

Apfel’s agent, Lori Sale, confirmed her death on Friday, and said “working alongside her was the honour of a lifetime”.

“She was a visionary in every sense of the word. She saw the world through a unique lens – one adorned with giant, distinctive spectacles that sat atop her nose. Through those lenses, she saw the world as a kaleidoscope of colour, a canvas of patterns and prints,” said Sale.

It is understood Apfel died at her home in Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday.

As an eminent authority on antique fabrics, Apfel consulted on restoration projects including work at the White House.

She was the subject of several museum exhibitions and a documentary, and more recently starred in campaigns for H&M, eBay, Citroën and even had a Barbie doll made in her likeness.

The bespectacled New Yorker had carved out a vivacious, idiosyncratic personal style with a heavy dose of wit. Describing herself as “the world’s oldest living teenager” in her Instagram bio where she amassed more than 2 million followers, she wrote “more is more and less is a bore”.

Among those paying tribute was the US designer Tommy Hilfiger, who praised Apfel as an “innovator and leader” in the world of textiles and style, who “will go down in history”.

In a statement given to PA, he said: “Iris Apfel has become a world-famous fashion icon because of her incredible talent not only as an artist, but as an influencer. She has had an amazing effect on so many people with her huge heart and magic touch with everyone she meets.”

In 2005, her personal collection of vintage and designer accessories and clothes became the subject of an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Entitled Rara Avis (Rare Bird): the Irreverent Iris Apfel, it was the first time the Met had focused on a living female who wasn’t a designer. In another first, Apfel dressed the mannequins herself, styling them in her own unique and flamboyant manner.

Apfel loved to mix designer pieces with more unique finds and clash colours, textures and prints. Eighteenth-century paste earrings and a Mexican hammered-silver belt were shown with couture pieces from Dior and James Galanos.

The response, mainly through word of mouth, was unprecedented. Giorgio Armani and Karl Lagerfeld attended the opening night and Apfel was catapulted to fashion fame.

After its success, the exhibition travelled to other museums including the Norton Museum of Art in Florida. In 2010, she bequeathed her entire Rare Bird of Fashion collection to the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts.

Born Iris Barrel in 1921 in Queens, New York, she studied art history at New York University and later attended art school at the University of Wisconsin.

Her first job was a copywriter at Women’s Wear Daily. She later worked for the interior designer Elinor Johnson and also the illustrator Robert Goodman.

In 1948, she married Carl Apfel. Two years later they launched the textile firm Old World Weavers and ran it until they retired in 1992. Their work included restoration projects for clients such as Greta Garbo and Estée Lauder, alongside work at the White House for nine presidents including Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan and Clinton.

Specialising in fabric reproductions from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the couple travelled extensively, searching for textiles they could not source in the US.

In an interview with the Guardian in 2015, Apfel explained it was one of the reasons they didn’t have children. “I don’t believe in a child having a nanny, so it wasn’t what we were going to do, but also having children is like protocol. You’re expected to. And I don’t like to be pigeonholed.”

Aged 91, she became Dazed magazine’s oldest cover star and in 2019, following advice from Hilfiger, she signed with one of the world’s biggest modelling agencies, IMG. At 101 she landed her first beauty campaign when she collaborated with Ciaté London on a makeup line.

When asked about ageing in a 2018 interview, Apfel said: “I wouldn’t want to stop the clock. No, that would be so boring. It would be like being caught in a time machine, a time warp. I don’t like that. I think variety is the spice of life.”

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Crowdfunding campaign brings first Timor-Leste float to parade

Crowdfunding campaign brings first Timor-Leste float to Sydney Mardi Gras parade

It was only two weeks ago that the founder of Timor-Leste’s own pride march learned he and 10 others were coming to Australia

  • Live news: Minns to become first NSW premier to join Sydney Mardi Gras parade
  • ‘It feels like we lost brothers’: Sydney Mardi Gras preparations take on sombre tone after alleged murders

Natalino Guterres likens getting the chance to march down Oxford Street in pure queer pride to the feeling he had when he was 12 and Timor-Leste achieved independence after a brutal occupation.

“It’s really emotional for me,” he said. “It’s one of those moments when you’re really happy and get to look forward to having some momentum.”

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Guterres has travelled from Timor-Leste with 10 others to march in Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade as part of the first ever Timor-Leste float, which will be one of 200.

They only found out they were coming two weeks ago after a successful GoFundMe was set up by Nuno Carrascalão – who came to Australia in 1975 as a refugee from Timor-Leste – raised more than $6,500 to help cover expenses.

“It’s incredible how fast it moved; there were so many people that came on board with immense support,” Carrascalão said, who has a drag and entertainment career in Australia under the name Ashley Swift.

Guterres has been at the forefront of building acceptance for Timor-Leste’s queer community since he began an annual pride march in the country in 2017.

Numbers have grown from 500 marchers in the first year to more than 5,000.

“There is a conservative culture in the country with 97% of the population Catholic, many of us are also Catholic,” Guterres said. “There’s still a lot of stigma, a lot of discrimination, people still don’t really feel comfortable coming out.”

But there has been growing support among sections of the church. At the start of each pride march, the attendees begin with a Catholic prayer.

It was this synchronicity between the church and queer community that struck Carrascalão when he travelled to Timor-Leste last year to join the pride march.

The visit came shortly after his first trip to Timor-Leste since he fled with his family when Indonesia invaded in 1975.

As many as 200,000 people are thought to have perished in fighting, massacres and forced starvation during Indonesia’s occupation before a landmark referendum in 1999 in which 78.5% of the population chose independence.

“Timor-Leste, with all the trauma that it has been through to the fact that through grassroots coordination have been able to hold their own Mardi Gras, is quite remarkable,” Carrascalão said. “There is a common thread that the fight for independence is the same fight for equality.”

During Carrascalão’s visit, he met with the president – José Ramos-Horta and helped organise for the next year’s Timor-Leste pride parade to end at the presidential palace.

Despite these advances, LGBTQ+ people still face a frequent lack of acceptance, violence and discrimination, Guterres said, something he hoped having a Timor-Leste float as part of Sydney’s Mardi Gras could change.

“It’s just the visibility that we will get not just for the queer community from our country but the country in general.”

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Crowdfunding campaign brings first Timor-Leste float to parade

Crowdfunding campaign brings first Timor-Leste float to Sydney Mardi Gras parade

It was only two weeks ago that the founder of Timor-Leste’s own pride march learned he and 10 others were coming to Australia

  • Live news: Minns to become first NSW premier to join Sydney Mardi Gras parade
  • ‘It feels like we lost brothers’: Sydney Mardi Gras preparations take on sombre tone after alleged murders

Natalino Guterres likens getting the chance to march down Oxford Street in pure queer pride to the feeling he had when he was 12 and Timor-Leste achieved independence after a brutal occupation.

“It’s really emotional for me,” he said. “It’s one of those moments when you’re really happy and get to look forward to having some momentum.”

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Guterres has travelled from Timor-Leste with 10 others to march in Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade as part of the first ever Timor-Leste float, which will be one of 200.

They only found out they were coming two weeks ago after a successful GoFundMe was set up by Nuno Carrascalão – who came to Australia in 1975 as a refugee from Timor-Leste – raised more than $6,500 to help cover expenses.

“It’s incredible how fast it moved; there were so many people that came on board with immense support,” Carrascalão said, who has a drag and entertainment career in Australia under the name Ashley Swift.

Guterres has been at the forefront of building acceptance for Timor-Leste’s queer community since he began an annual pride march in the country in 2017.

Numbers have grown from 500 marchers in the first year to more than 5,000.

“There is a conservative culture in the country with 97% of the population Catholic, many of us are also Catholic,” Guterres said. “There’s still a lot of stigma, a lot of discrimination, people still don’t really feel comfortable coming out.”

But there has been growing support among sections of the church. At the start of each pride march, the attendees begin with a Catholic prayer.

It was this synchronicity between the church and queer community that struck Carrascalão when he travelled to Timor-Leste last year to join the pride march.

The visit came shortly after his first trip to Timor-Leste since he fled with his family when Indonesia invaded in 1975.

As many as 200,000 people are thought to have perished in fighting, massacres and forced starvation during Indonesia’s occupation before a landmark referendum in 1999 in which 78.5% of the population chose independence.

“Timor-Leste, with all the trauma that it has been through to the fact that through grassroots coordination have been able to hold their own Mardi Gras, is quite remarkable,” Carrascalão said. “There is a common thread that the fight for independence is the same fight for equality.”

During Carrascalão’s visit, he met with the president – José Ramos-Horta and helped organise for the next year’s Timor-Leste pride parade to end at the presidential palace.

Despite these advances, LGBTQ+ people still face a frequent lack of acceptance, violence and discrimination, Guterres said, something he hoped having a Timor-Leste float as part of Sydney’s Mardi Gras could change.

“It’s just the visibility that we will get not just for the queer community from our country but the country in general.”

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Foundation for cyclist safety to close after federal funds cut off

Amy Gillett Foundation for cyclist safety to close after federal funds cut off

Set up to honour the Australian national team cyclist killed by a car, the group was behind the successful A Metre Matters campaign

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The Australian cycling safety advocacy body behind the successful A Metre Matters campaign is being wound up after federal government funding was discontinued.

The Amy Gillett Foundation was established in 2006 after the death of Gillett, a former Olympic rower who had switched to track and road cycling. The 29-year-old was training with the Australian national team in Germany when she and her teammates were hit by a car.

The foundation has been responsible for several cycling safety advocacy campaigns, including efforts to enshrine in law the requirement that drivers leave at least one metre’s distance while passing a cyclist. The campaign began in 2009 and ended in 2021, when Victoria became the final state to update its road laws.

The foundation has also overseen a scholarship program for emerging female road cyclists. Recent recipients have included former national champion Sarah Gigante and two-time world time trial silver medallist Grace Brown. It puts its name to an annual participation ride, Amy’s Gran Fondo, along the Great Ocean Road.

In a letter to stakeholders, seen by Guardian Australia, foundation chair Lisa Jacobs wrote that “regretfully, the board has concluded that ongoing operation of the foundation is no longer sustainable in the absence of new federal government funding”.

The news was first reported by cycling website Escape Collective.

The foundation received $6m in the 2022 budget, with a program of work formally launched in March last year by the assistant minister for infrastructure and transport, Carol Brown.

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Liquidators Shaun Matthews and Rachel Burdett of Cor Cordis have been appointed to wind up the foundation. In a statement, they said: “As has been the experience of many not-for-profits, the past few years have been lean, and securing philanthropic funding has become more complex.” They added that they would review the foundation’s financial position before “we commence winding up the affairs of the foundation in an orderly manner”.

The foundation was approached for comment but did not respond before publication. The Australian Sports Commission declined to comment.

The assistant minister, Senator Brown, said in a statement to the Guardian that to date $4.5 million had been paid out from the $6 million earmarked for the foundation’s delivery of the Safe Roads for Safe Cycling Program.

“Grants need to be spent in accordance with conditions agreed as part of the funding process. The Department has been in discussions with the foundation since before December over the provision of necessary information as part of the conditions of the grant. Those discussions have been ongoing.

“The Albanese Government is committed to creating safer environments for all road users nationwide.”

The foundation’s bright pink branding has become commonplace at cycling events, while it built strong relationships with federal, state and territory governments (assisted by influential board members, such as former chair and Liberal party heavyweight Mark Textor).

But in recent years questions have been raised over the foundation’s continued impact, particularly after the completion of the A Metre Matters campaign. Several other bodies operate in the advocacy ecosystem, including Bicycle Network and Bicycle NSW. In 2020, Bike Melbourne asked in a blog post: “Has the Amy Gillett Foundation outlived its use by date?

AusCycling, the peak body for the sport of cycling, told the Guardian it would consider the implications of the foundation’s closure for its own advocacy programs and initiatives. AusCycling and the foundation were partners on some projects, but did not have a financial relationship; AusCycling indicated on Friday it had not been approached by the foundation in relation to its financial situation.

AusCycling chief executive Marne Fechner said she was “disappointed” at the news, adding that the Metre Matters campaign would be “a continued reminder of the Foundation’s two-decade legacy”.

Amy Gillett Foundation data indicates that more than 20 cyclists are seriously injured and hospitalised across the country every day, while a cyclist is killed every 10 days on Australian roads.

In her letter, Jacobs implored continued efforts to address these statistics.

“While the work of our foundation will cease, the urgent need to improve cyclist safety continues,” she wrote. “Despite the advances that have been made in road safety, design, infrastructure and driver and cyclist behaviour, the goal of zero cycling fatalities is yet to be achieved.”

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Lawyers who had Tesla CEO’s pay dismissed as excessive seek $6bn in company’s shares

Lawyers who had Elon Musk’s pay dismissed as excessive seek $6bn in Tesla shares

Three firms that represented a Tesla shareholder seek record fee from the electric vehicle maker because they benefited from the return of Musk’s stock options

The lawyers who successfully argued that Elon Musk’s $56bn pay package was excessive are seeking a record legal fee worth $6bn, payable in the electric car maker’s stock, according to a court filing.

“We recognise that the requested fee is unprecedented in terms of absolute size,” Friday’s filing by the three law firms with the court of chancery in Delaware said.

The fee works out to an hourly rate of $288,888, according to the filing.

The electric vehicle maker is being asked to pay the fee because it benefited from the return of Musk’s pay package, which the legal team said will result in the return to the carmaker of 266m shares.

“This structure has the benefit of linking the award directly to the benefit created and avoids taking even one cent from the Tesla balance sheet to pay fees,” the shareholder legal team said, noting the fee was also tax-deductible to Tesla.

The fee is being sought by attorneys who represented Richard Tornetta, a Tesla shareholder who sued Musk in 2018 over the pay package, which a Delaware judge nixed in January.

The three law firms are Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann and Friedman Oster & Tejtel, both based in New York, and Andrews & Springer of Wilmington.

The fee request must be approved by Kathaleen McCormick, the judge overseeing the case. She called Musk’s pay “unfathomable” in her January ruling.

Tesla, Musk’s attorney and Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company may object to the fee, as it has a fee request in a similar case over the pay for its directors.

The largest settlements in shareholder cases occur in federal court, where the biggest fee was $688m in 2008 for the legal team that obtained a $7.2bn settlement in a securities fraud case over the failure of Enron Corp.

The Tesla fee request comes as the Delaware supreme court is considering an appeal against a $267m fee in a case that settled for $1bn involving Dell Technologies.

Delaware judges have said that pursuing cases deep into litigation, through depositions and toward trial, should get a higher percentage of the recovery to reflect the risk and effort. The Musk pay case went to a one-week trial.

Opponents of this approach argued that as settlements and judgments grow in size, attorneys should collect a declining percentage to avoid overcompensation.

The legal team said the requested fee worked out to about 11% of the judgment.

Musk’s pay package consisted of stock options that allowed him to purchase Tesla stock at heavily discounted prices and required him to hold the stock for five years. The legal team said they were seeking stock without restrictions on selling it.

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Americans don’t give a rat’s ass about the NRL – I can safely say that as an Australian in the US

Americans don’t give a rat’s ass about the NRL – I can safely say that as an Australian in the US

Peter Mitchell

Disappointment awaits if the league expects large numbers of sports-loving locals to watch the season opener and become enthusiastic fans

NRL fans, please don’t get angry. I’m not an NRL hater or a Negative Nigel. I understand why the Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, Roosters and Broncos have descended on Las Vegas this weekend for the NRL’s season-opening double-header.

It’s part of chief executive Andrew Abdo’s job to look for new markets and the US, with its 330 million residents, is the holy grail of sports markets. But there’s one problem for Abdo and the NRL – and it’s a huge problem.

Americans don’t give a rat’s ass about our beloved sport. The NRL double-header will come and go this weekend with most locals unaware it even took place.

If the NRL foray into the US is about increasing sports wagering profits, fair enough. Going to Vegas, the gambling capital of the world, is the obvious place to hold season openers for the next few years. However, if the NRL and rugby league fans expect large numbers of sports-loving Americans to become enthusiastic fans of the game, disappointment awaits.

Plenty has been made about the games being aired in US “prime time” on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Sports 1 cable channel. Saturday night is not “prime time” in the US and TV ratings are traditionally low at this time.

More Americans watch TV on Sunday nights, which is why the NFL Super Bowl, Academy Awards and other major live events are held then while aired on major free-to-air networks like ABC, CBS, NBC and, Murdoch’s flagship network, FOX. Fox Sports 1 is just one of many cable sports channels.

The US time zones will also limit viewership, with the Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs broadcast beginning in Las Vegas (and other west coast locations) at 6.30pm on Saturday. In New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami and other US east coast cities – where most Americans live – the game will start at 9.30pm. The second game, between the Roosters and Broncos, will kick off at the sleepy hour of 11.30pm on the east coast and end in the wee hours of Sunday.

Visually, expect plenty of tight shots of the field and players during the TV broadcast, to avoid showing large areas of empty seats. Ticket sales have nudged past 40,000 for the 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium.

On the positive side, Australian, New Zealander and British expatriates living in the US, along with the 15,000 Australians expected to fly over, will have a great weekend in Vegas. New bonds will be formed while watching their NRL heroes in between gorging themselves at the all-you-can-eat buffets, and watching Carrot Top, Thunder from Down Under or one of U2’s final concerts at The Sphere.

Why am I not drinking the NRL Kool-Aid? It’s because I’ve seen ventures like the NRL double-header in Vegas many times before. I’ve lived in the US for almost 25 years and for most of that time was the North American correspondent for Australian Associated Press.

I’ve written countless articles about Australians with great ideas that Americans should love. But Americans, for multiple reasons, aren’t interested. Just ask the many meat pie companies that have tried to set up shop in the US thinking a hot pie on a cold winter’s day would be gobbled up by Americans. A “pie” in America is a pizza, or has fruit in it. A “pot pie” in the US comes close to an Aussie meat pie, but it’s not something Americans would eat at a Dodgers or Yankees game.

It’s the same problem with rugby league and the NRL. Americans are comfortable with their ample servings of NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NCAA basketball and football, and Nascar.

We can also look to other lukewarm rugby league adventures in the US. There was the State of Origin game in 1987 at Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles, that drew 12,000 spectators. In 2008, Russell Crowe did his best to promote his Rabbitohs playing the Leeds Rhinos in Florida and a crowd of 12,500 showed up. In 2018, England played New Zealand in a sparsely populated Mile High Stadium in Denver.

The NRL faces the same problems as cricket. I was there in 2015 when Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendukar, Wasim Akram, Brian Lara and other cricketing greats brought T20 exhibition games to New York, Houston and Los Angeles for the inaugural “Cricket All-Star Series.” As a cricket lover, it was sensational sitting in the New York Mets’ Citi Field or LA’s hallowed Dodger Stadium watching my childhood heroes.

One of my tasks was to find Americans at the games and ask what they thought about the spectacle. I discovered few Americans showed up. The crowds were mostly filled with Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Australian, New Zealander and British expats. After a lot of searching, I found two Americans at Citi Field and they weren’t ready to convert to cricket.

“It’s a fun experience and I would go to a game for that, but I don’t think I could follow the game,” one of the Americans, Dan Taneski, told me.

Perhaps the best example of how hard it is to become relevant in the US sports world is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s attempt to make his fledgling American football league, the XFL, viable. Johnson is arguably Hollywood’s biggest star and has a legitimate background in American football after playing for the University of Miami. He also has a huge fan base from professional wrestling and 17.1 million followers on X alone, but has struggled to etch a significant foothold for the XFL in the US. Johnson just announced a merger between XFL and another beleaguered American football league, the USFL.

Let’s talk about the NRL’s identity problem in the US. Most Americans don’t know the difference between rugby league, rugby union and Australian rules football. They presume they are the same sport and brand it simply as “rugby”. It has been a running joke in my interviews over the years with the likes of Australian NFL punters Ben Graham, Michael Dickson, Lou Hedley, Mitch Wishnowsky, and many others who grew up kicking a Sherrin. Their American coaches, teammates and fans often presume they played “rugby”. It was a similar situation for Jarryd Hayne and Valentine Holmes, with Americans presuming they played in the AFL.

So, let’s be constructive. How could Abdo and ARL Commission chair Peter V’landys elevate the NRL so the American media and sports fans from coast to coast actually talk about rugby league? There is a way but it includes megastars, and lots and lots of cash.

The best US examples are David Beckham and Lionel Messi joining America’s Major League Soccer. Beckham’s arrival at the LA Galaxy in 2007 and Messi joining Inter Miami last year resulted in ESPN and America’s other NFL/NBA/MLB-obsessed media focusing more on the MLS.

Beckham’s LA Galaxy five-year deal was worth US$250m, and Messi is expected to pocket $US150m in salary, equity in the club and other compensation for his two-and-a-half years in Miami.

So, there you have it. If the NRL wants to be relevant and sell millions of subscriptions to the Watch NRL app, it just needs LeBron James to sign with the Rabbitohs as their new rampaging second rower.

About US$250m should close the deal with James, and Negative Nigel and tens of millions of Americans would watch that at 11.30pm on a Saturday.

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Nikki Haley unsure Trump would follow constitution

‘I don’t know’: Nikki Haley unsure Trump would follow constitution

Trump’s last remaining Republican primary challenger says ‘I don’t think there should ever be a president that’s above the law’

Asked if she thought Donald Trump would follow the US constitution if he is elected for a second term as president, Nikki Haley said: “I don’t know.”

“I don’t know. I don’t – I don’t know,” the former South Carolina governor, Trump’s last opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, told NBC’s Meet the Press in an interview to be broadcast in full on Sunday.

“I mean … you always want to think someone will, but I don’t know.”

Trump has won every primary vote and heads into Super Tuesday on 5 March, when multiple states hold nominating contests, on the brink of securing the nomination.

Refusing to drop out, Haley has attacked Trump in steadily harsher terms. But though she has kept the twice-impeached former president from utterly dominating at the polls, she has not come close to winning a state.

Trump’s campaign rhetoric has been characteristically dark, including a wish to be a “dictator” on day one in office and promises to take “ultimate and absolute revenge” on his enemies. He has mused about “vindication” and about “terminating” the constitution.

Haley said: “You know, when you … go and you talk about revenge – when you go and you talk about, you know, vindication [and] when you go and you talk about – what does that mean? Like, I don’t know what that means, and only he can answer for that.

“What I can answer for is, I don’t think there should ever be a president that’s above the law. I don’t think that there should ever be a president that has total immunity to do whatever they want to do.”

The US supreme court this week stunned many observers when it said it would hear oral arguments over Trump’s claim, in his federal election subversion case, that he has absolute immunity for acts committed in office.

A federal appeals court roundly rejected the argument but it will be presented to a rightwing-dominated supreme court to which Trump appointed three justices in four years. Scheduling concerns mean any trial is likely to be close to or after the November election.

Facing 91 criminal charges – for election subversion (four federal, 13 state), retention of classified information (40) and hush-money payments (34), Trump has sought to delay each case, ultimately to be able to have them dismissed if he is re-elected.

Haley, who served the former president as ambassador to the United Nations, has said Trump cannot win a general election but also refused to rule out endorsing him and said she will not support Joe Biden.

Trump has roundly mocked Haley and demanded she drop out.

As president, Haley told NBC, “I think that we need to have someone that our kids can look up to, that they can be proud of.”

Trump’s hush-money trial – concerning payments to an adult film star who claimed an extramarital affair – will begin in New York at the end of March.

Haley added: “I think we need to have a country of law and order, a country of freedom, and a country that goes back to respecting the value of a taxpayer dollar, and we don’t have any of that right now.”

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US man breaks own record for most Big Macs eaten in a lifetime

US man extends record for most Big Macs eaten in a lifetime to over 34,000

Don Gorske, 70, becomes one of Guinness World Records’ longest-running holders with intake of two McDonald’s burgers a day

Don Gorske did not have many people betting on him to live into his 70s with his half-century-old habit of eating Big Mac hamburgers daily.

But cutting down his intake of the famous McDonald’s burgers to two a day (rather than his previous high of nine), skipping fries with his meals and walking six miles daily for exercise has not only helped him become a septuagenarian – it has also allowed him to extend his Guinness world record for most Big Macs eaten in a lifetime to more than 34,000.

“Many people thought I’d be dead by now,” the 70-year-old Gorske said on Thursday in an interview published by the organization which is known for maintaining a database of more than 40,000 world records. “But instead I’ve been … one of Guinness World Records’ longer-running record holders, so that’s pretty cool to me.”

It’s hard to overstate how central McDonald’s and its staple product have been to the identity of the retired prison officer from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. That’s the case despite longstanding warnings from experts who say regularly consuming fast food, including McDonald’s, can contribute to weight gain, obesity, heart disease and other health problems because the meals are densely packed with calories, sodium, sugar and fat.

Gorske recounted how his love affair with Big Macs began as soon as he had his first one on 17 May 1972. “In that moment, I said: ‘I’m going to probably eat these for the rest of my life,’” Gorske remarked to Guinness. “I threw the cartons in the back seat and started counting them from day one.”

He is not exaggerating. He has kept a receipt of every single Big Mac he’s eaten every day since that first one, and he’s retained each of the burgers’ containers.

Gorske said his mother grew worried as she saw his fascination with Big Macs blossom and tried to rein it in by making him promise to eat one non-Big Mac meal a day. But she gave up on making him fulfill that promise in 1981.

According to Gorske, “She said, ‘If they haven’t killed you by now, go ahead.’”

Gorske would drive to McDonald’s every day, order up to nine Big Macs and eat each of them at the height of his devotion. The one closest to his home displays his portrait on one of its walls, and he said he even proposed to his wife, Mary, in that restaurant’s parking lot.

But Gorske now usually goes to McDonald’s twice weekly, orders batches of Big Macs and – after eating a fresh one – takes them home to microwave when he’s hungry.

Gorske said he doesn’t stray very far from Big Macs, sometimes snacking on ice-cream, fruit bars or potato chips in the evenings.

The incarcerated people whom Gorske would guard at a maximum security prison in Wisconsin aimed “relentless” teasing at him if they ever saw him on television in connection with his McDonald’s habit. But he said his fellow guards were supportive, going so far as to sneak in Big Macs for him on the occasions he worked double shifts and couldn’t get them for himself.

Mary, too, supported him. “She has put up with a lot of obsessive compulsive things I do and hasn’t let my Big Mac thing get to her,” he told Guinness.

Gorske has kept himself in the best physical shape possible by foregoing breakfast, turning down fries or any other side serving with his Big Macs and walking a half-dozen miles daily.

Such efforts culminated in Guinness giving him his world record title for most Big Macs eaten in a lifetime in 1999. He had eclipsed the 25,000 mark in 2011, boasting to the Guardian then: “I plan on eating Big Macs until I die. I have no intention of changing. It’s still my favorite food.”

And throughout 2023, he ate 728 Big Macs – just below two daily – to push his total to 34,128.

No, he’s still not lost his appetite for the burgers, and yes, he has plenty of room for more, he maintained.

“When I like something, I stick with it all the time,” Gorske said to Guinness. “People who have watched me eating a Big Mac often comment that I look like I’m eating one for the very first time.”

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