Lady Gaga SXSW show features vomit, snags

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Lady Gaga kicked off 24 hours in the spotlight at South By Southwest in a typically memorable fashion.

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The pop provocateur began her appearance at Stubb’s BBQ on Thursday night during the annual music festival and conference by roasting herself on a spit like a gutted pig as her dancers basted her with barbecue brushes – and then things got really weird.

The show sponsored by Doritos to benefit her Born This Way Foundation included moments meant to provoke and others meant to inspire

Gaga began the evening by taping a Jimmy Kimmel Live segment, in which she wore a puffy white dress complete with a huge hat that mostly obscured her face. By the time she hit Stubb’s a little after 10pm, she had stripped down to a black bikini on an unusually chilly night at the outdoor venue and had long blonde dreadlock extensions.

Gaga’s set included a scene of an attractive woman eating barbecued sausages in a provocative manner, and “vomit painter” Millie Brown throwing up on the singer as she played drums.

There was also a scene of Gaga straddling Brown atop a mechanical pig and playing the keyboard. Brown also painted Gaga with a black liquid that stained the singer’s skin throughout the performance.

The entire show wasn’t meant to titillate, however. There were moments that were meant to inspire the crowd.

“I love my fans because they always let me be myself and they don’t care what anybody says,” Gaga told the crowd.

A little while later she set up her sombre song Dope with a self-reflective moment.

“It’s so much easier to be yourself than it is to be somebody else,” she told the crowd as she played melancholy notes on the piano. “Because then you have to pretend to be someone else and like things that you don’t like and do stuff that you don’t want to do.”

Gaga is set to wrap up her time at SXSW by giving the conference’s keynote speech on Friday morning.

Prison ‘a trap’ for people with disability

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There are calls for an urgent end to the practice of sending intellectually disabled people to jail if they have not been found guilty of a crime.

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(Transcript from World News Radio)

Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes says up to 30 people are currently in jail despite being unfit to make a plea.

Mr Innes says prison is not the appropriate place for someone with a disability.

(Click on audio tab to listen to this item)

Rosie Anne Fulton, who was born with foetal alcohol syndrome, has spent the past 18 months in a Western Australian jail for driving offences.

This is despite the fact she did not enter a plea because of her intellectual impairment.

Her situation is not an isolated one.

Graeme Innes the Disability Commissioner with the Human Rights Commission, says he’s aware of many similar cases.

He’s calling for an urgent audit of people with intellectual disabilities who are in jail.

“We were informally advised that there are 20 to 30 people, mainly Aboriginal people, with a disability, who have not been convicted of a crime yet who spend time in prison in Australia. Rosie Anne Fulton is the second of those that we’re specifically aware of. Marlin Noble is the first in WA and he spent ten years in prison without being convicted of a crime so we think this is a very serious situation.”

The Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign’s Patrick McGee says people with an intellectual disability often end up in jail because laws are structured to allow it to happen.

“We have legislation: it’s called Mental Impairment Legislation. When a person with a cognitive impairment comes before court, and the court is aware that there’s something amiss with their cognitive status, that triggers an assessment. If the assessment finds that they in fact have an intellectual disability or an acquired brain injury or foetal alcohol syndrome, what happens then is that there is a court definition that they cannot plead; that is, they do not understand whether they are guilty or innocent, and an alternative pathway is provided. That’s what happened to Rosie Anne in Western Australia when she was charged with those minor offences. And unfortunately Western Australia, like the Northern Territory, does not have any resources, that is accommodation, where treatment or significant benefit is provided, and so she had to go to prison.”

Mr McGee says often judges are placed in a situation where they have to send someone to jail because there are no other options.

“For many Indigenous people with cognitive impairment, there is no opportunity or option for them to either return to the community or return to their family for very many complex reasons or they may not have family or community to return to. So they are not able to live independently in the community, safely, and so there is nowhere for them to exit to, and so they get stuck in jail.”

Most of the people with intellectual disabilities who are in jail are in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Western Australia’s Chief Justice has said he wants the laws changed so that people who are unfit to plead cannot be held indefinitely.

He says they should not stay in jail any longer than if they’d been convicted.

But Commissioner Innes says that is not a satisfactory answer.

“That’s not a view I share. If a person has been determined unfit to plead, then by definition they have not been found guilty of a crime. We only lock people up in jails when they are guilty of crimes unless they are on remand whilst that’s been determined. But once that determination is made either that a person is unfit to plead or that a person is guilty, we release them and we support them in the community if that’s required. And that’s what we should do for people with a disability. There’s no basis for leaving people in jail if they have not been convicted of a crime.”

Final Tiwi community to sign 99-year lease

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The community of Pirlangimpi in the Northern Territory has signed an agreement to recommence negotiations for a 99-year township lease, which will make it the fourth and final community in the Tiwi Islands to sign up.

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In 2007, Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island, about 80km north of Darwin, signed the first ever 99-year township lease with the government, getting a $5 million initial payment and funding for a community wellness centre and upgrades to the football ovals.

Ranku and Milikapiti have both signed up as well, and, following an abandoned attempt to negotiate with the Rudd/Gillard government over the past six years, Pirlangimpi on neighbouring Melville Island has joined in.

The voluntary leases, which grew out of compulsory five-year leases over Aboriginal communities and towns as a measure of the Intervention, are now in place in the Tiwi Islands, Groot Eyelandt, and Gunbalunya in Eastern Arnhem Land.

They provide long-term secure land tenure from the Land Trust that open up economic opportunities for Aboriginal people, such as borrowing money to start up their own businesses or to buy their own homes, while still retaining underlying ownership of their land.

“The most precious thing, and sometimes the only thing, our First Australians have that is theirs to hold is their land,” said Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion, at the signing of the Pirlangimpi agreement on Friday.

“Every decision they make around their land, we need to give them proper time to think and consider.”

The community has until the end of November to finalise a deal with the Commonwealth.

Traditional owners quizzed the minister on how transparent the process would be and how much say they would have.

“We would like to know we can make any decision regarding ourselves without any pressure from outside people telling us what to do,” said elder Pirrawayingi.

“It’s up to us at the end of the day to take that advice based on our own values, beliefs, and whether we think it’s right or wrong.”

He said the community did not want to be suffocated by red tape.

Senator Scullion said the leasing process had been streamlined through negotiations with other communities that have already signed up.

“‘What’s in it for us?’ That should absolutely be the question you keep in your minds,” he told the community.

Elder Cyril Kalippa wanted an assurance that if Pirlangimpi signed up, it would be easier to obtain bank loans.

“We have got a problem getting a loan from the banks, we are still having trouble,” he said.

“The banks don’t trust Aboriginal people to get a loan.”

But Senator Scullion said bottom-line profits would motivate lenders.

“They are mercenary – they are looking for successful businesses that will make them money and repay the interest.”

He pointed to the success in Wurrumiyanga, where a supermarket and four small retail outlets have opened, and 15 people have bought their own homes.

Also on Friday, that community reviewed the first five years of its 99-year lease.

2007 was the first time local ownership of businesses and homes had been seen on this scale in a remote Aboriginal community, Senator Scullion said.

Since Wurrumiyanga first signed a township lease, the system has been refined, said Greg Roach, executive director of township leasing for the federal government.

He says it took a while to convince the Catholic Church, the Tiwi Land Council and government organisations in the community to pay rent in recognition of the fact they were on Aboriginal land.

“(The community) suffered financially, so the lease has been varied to recognise the loss,” he told AAP.

“What we’ve done is now developed a systematic process where everyone on Aboriginal land in our communities pays rent.”

In 2007, $2000 was collected in rent, while last year, $642,000 was collected, Mr Roach said.

“That’s the difference we can make to their future.”

Jennifer Ullungura Clancy, a traditional owner at Wurrumiyanga, said the community has been very happy with the township lease.

“Township leasing is good for our people so we can support our families and kids; no one has complained at all,” she said.

“All the money coming in from rent, we’re putting it aside to support this community.”

The review demonstrates how a township lease can adapt and evolve over time, Senator Scullion said, and gives Aboriginal people the same opportunity as other Australians to leverage their assets to generate wealth for themselves, their families and their communities.

“They have a responsibility handed down for generations to ensure that they can maintain their hold and control on land, that’s why it’s such an important decision,” he said.

Guardiola can teach me to coach: Maradona

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Diego Maradona admits he could learn a thing or two about coaching from Pep Guardiola after the Spaniard won the Bundesliga title in record time at Bayern Munich.

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The 53-year-old Maradona told German magazine Sport Bild said he would like to watch Guardiola work at close quarters.

“I would like to spend a week working with Guardiola to watch him in training,” said Maradona, who won the 1986 World Cup with Argentina and coached the south Americans at the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

“It would give me great pleasure to visit Bayern Munich.”

Bayern’s 3-1 win at Hertha Berlin on Tuesday saw Guardiola’s side crowned German champions for the 24th time with a record seven games to spare.

After only nine months in charge, it is Guardiola’s third title at Bayern after the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup and the Spaniard’s success is no surprise to his former Barcelona coach Johan Cruyff.

“I know Pep very well and I know how smart he is,” ex-Dutch star Cruyff, 66, said in an interview with Munich newspapers Muenchner Merkur and TZ.

“It was clear to me that he didn’t go to Bayern with the absolute intention of wanting to change everything. He’s the sort who wants to have everything working optimally and when it does, he just changes details.

“That’s his gift: precisely why he’s a good trainer is because he knows that anything good can always be improved.”

Guardiola’s immediate success at Bayern is no accident, according to Cruyff.

“He knew exactly what was expected of him and he had seven, eight months to prepare for working at the club and had, for example, learned German, which I find very important,” said the Dutchman.

“That’s typical Pep: he leaves nothing to chance.”

NZ dollar drops against Aussie

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The New Zealand dollar dropped to a three-week low against its trans-Tasman counterpart after Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens delivered an upbeat speech about prospects for the Australian economy.

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The kiwi touched a low of 93.07 Australian cents on Thursday morning, and was trading at 93.10 cents at 8am in Wellington from 93.59 cents at 5pm on Wednesday.

Australia’s currency rose to a four-month high of 92.44 US cents overnight and the New Zealand dollar was pulled along with it, touching a week-high of 86.20 US cents overnight to trade at 85.95 cents at 8am, from 85.87 cents at 5pm on Wednesday.

The Australian dollar was the best performing major currency tracked by Reuters overnight after Mr Stevens, speaking at an investor conference in Hong Kong, pointed to early signs the nation is in a transition from mining-led growth to domestic consumption.

He didn’t repeat previous comments that the Aussie was overvalued.

“Markets took the lack of ‘jawboning’ on the AUD as a green light to continue AUD appreciation. Also taken as a positive were the ‘promising signs’ on growth rebalancing away from mining investment.”

AUD continues to strengthen with optimism over rebalancing growth and a lack of ‘jawboning’ by RBA governor Stevens driving strength,” ANZ Bank New Zealand said in a note.

New Zealand Reserve Bank deputy governor Grant Spencer will speak to the investment conference on macro-prudential policy and the release New Zealand’s trade balance for February is unlikely to change the theme of New Zealand dollar strength, ANZ said.

The kiwi reached a new four-month high of 62.49 euro cents overnight and was at 62.34 cents at 8am from 62.16 cents after European Central Bank officials signalled a softening of monetary policy earlier this week.

The local currency slipped to 51.85 British pence from 51.94 pence and weakened to 87.72 yen from 87.83 yen. The trade-weighted index was little changed at 80.18 from 80.16.

NYC proposes 10-cent grocery bag fee

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New York City grocery shoppers may soon face a 10 cent (A11 cent) fee on all plastic and paper bags, enlisting the nation’s largest city in a growing green movement.

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The City Council introduced a bill on Wednesday that would impose the fee in an effort to spur customers to bring their own reusable bags.

Supporters of the bill say it would benefit the city’s economy as well as its environment.

“The bags get stuck in storms drains, they cause flooding and they litter our beaches,” Council member Melissa Chen of Manhattan, one of the co-sponsors of the legislation, said at a news conference on the City Hall steps.

“And they cost New York City a lot of money.”

City residents use one billion disposable plastic bags a year and it costs the city $US10 million ($A10.94 million) annually to ship used bags to landfills, according to the bills’ supporters.

The measure is expected to be voted upon within the next few weeks.

If it passes, New York will join such cities as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington to try to curb the use of plastic bags.

The 10-cent fee would not be a tax. Instead, the money raised from the bag sales would benefit the store owners who supplied the bags.

Some business owners have complained that the fee could keep shoppers away.

A similar measure was introduced last year but failed to gather the necessary support and therefore had to be re-introduced in front of the new council, which took office in January.

Nineteen council members are co-sponsoring the new bill, seven short of the votes needed to pass it.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said on Wednesday that she would need to review the bill before determining her position.

Her close ally, Mayor Bill de Blasio, stopped short of endorsing the bill a day earlier, but said that reducing the number of plastic bags was “a societal goal.”

US durable goods orders up

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Orders to US factories for long-lasting manufactured goods rose in February by the most in three months, but a key category that reflects business investment fell sharply.

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This category fell 1.3 per cent, the second setback in three months.

Economists said the weakness in business investment might reflect the severe winter, which led some industries to put modernisation and expansion plans on hold.

Overall orders for durable goods rose 2.2 per cent after a 1.3 per cent drop in January, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The February increase was driven by a surge in orders for commercial aircraft, a category that tends to fluctuate sharply from month to month.

Joel Naroff, chief economists at Naroff Economic Advisors, said he expected economic growth to slow sharply in the January-March quarter, reflecting the disruptions caused by the harsh weather, before recovering in coming months.

“The rebound could be huge once spring actually appears,” Naroff said.

A 13.6 per cent jump in demand for commercial aircraft followed a 22.1 per cent plunge in the previous month. Orders for motor vehicles and parts showed a solid gain of 3.6 per cent in February after a 1.9 per cent fall in January.

Demand also rose for primary metals such as steel. Orders for machinery fell 1.5 per cent. Demand for computers fell 0.5 per cent and for communications equipment 2.7 per cent.

Many economists think manufacturing output will strengthen in spring, reflecting better weather after winter storms disrupted production at some factories.

The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of manufacturing activity expanded faster in February as companies received more orders and boosted their stockpiles. Its manufacturing index rose to 53.2 in February from 51.3 in January. That only partially reversed a 5-point drop in January. Any reading above 50 indicates that manufacturing is expanding.

The ISM index had risen for six straight months until falling slightly in December and taking a big tumble in January as heavy snow caused factories to close.

The bad weather depressed purchases of homes and autos, causing factories to trim their production schedules for autos, furniture and appliances in January. But the Federal Reserve said factory output rebounded in February by the largest amount in six months.

Analysts estimate that the economy slowed to an annual growth rate below 2 per cent in the January-March period. But they’re forecasting that the growth rate will rebound to around 3 per cent for the rest of the year. If that occurs, it would be the fastest annual economic growth since 2005.

Finance News Update, what you need to know

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WORLD FINANCE UPDATE:

The Australian dollar is higher as it looks increasingly likely that there won’t be any more central bank cash rate cuts in the foreseeable future.

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At 0630 AEDT on Thursday, the local unit was trading at 92.29 US cents, up from 91.98 cents on Wednesday.

And the Australian share market looks set to open lower following Wall Street’s lead with US markets giving up their early session gains.

At 0645 AEDT on Thursday, the June share price index futures contract was down 26 points at 5,344.

ELSEWHERE:

WASHINGTON – Orders to US factories for long-lasting manufactured goods rose in February by the most in three months, but a key category that reflects business investment fell sharply. This category fell 1.3 per cent, the second setback in three months.

LONDON – Britain and China have signed a deal for the first clearing service for yuan trading outside of Asia, the UK government says.

GENEVA – China has broken the rules of global commerce by restricting exports of rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum, a move that benefited domestic industries, a World Trade Organisation panel says.

KIEV – Ukraine has agreed to drastically hike domestic gas prices by up to 50 per cent in order to meet a key loan condition from the International Monetary Fund for the crisis-hit ex-Soviet state.

MOSCOW – The chief executive of Siemens has told President Vladimir Putin the German industrial giant plans long-term investment in Russia, in a key sign of confidence in Russia’s economy despite the outcry over its intervention in Crimea.

PARIS – The number of jobless in France surged by 0.9 per cent in February to a new record of 3.34 million.

YANGON – Myanmar has named energy giants Chevron, Shell and Total among the winners of a landmark auction of offshore oil and gas exploration rights, pinning hope on its natural resources to drive economic growth.

PARIS – Beijing and Paris have signed scores of deals worth 18 billion euros ($A27.35 billion) on the second day of a lavish state visit by the Chinese president, in what Francois Hollande said would bring much-needed growth.

MOSCOW – Russian aerospace giant Sukhoi says it has signed a preliminary deal to sell 100 jumbo jets to a group of Chinese firms worth an estimated $US3.3 billion ($A3.61 billion).

NEW YORK – King Digital, the maker of the wildly popular video game Candy Crush, fell below its IPO price in initial trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

LONDON – A British financial watchdog says it has fined Spanish banking giant Santander almost STG12.4 million ($A22.48 million) for mis-advising customers.

LONDON – Lloyd’s of London, the centuries-old insurance market, says 2013 has been its most profitable year since the height of the financial crisis.

World’s finest viola auctioned in New York

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The world’s greatest viola made in 1719 went to auction in New York on Wednesday in a closed sale expected to fetch more than $US45 million ($A49.

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23 million).

The Macdonald, made by Antonio Stradivari, is one of only 10 complete Stradivari violas left in the world and the only one from the Italian master’s prime, according to Sotheby’s.

“Antonio Stradivari is universally acknowledged as the greatest violin maker of all time,” said Tim Ingles, director of Ingles and Hayday which is organising the sale with Sotheby’s.

“Around 600 instruments by Stradivari survive today but only 10 complete violas.

“The finest of all the violas is generally considered to be the Macdonald of 1719,” he said.

“No Stradivari viola has been on the market for the last 50 years so this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Sotheby’s opened a sealed bid process for the viola on Wednesday with bids expected in excess of $45 million, it said.

The bidding process will close in June.

The viola is being sold by the family of the late Austrian-British violist, Peter Schidlof, who was a member of the acclaimed Amadeus Quartet.

He bought the instrument in 1964.

It’s name derives from Godfrey Bosville, the third Baron Macdonald, who bought it in the 1820s.

The only other Stradivari viola which remains in private hands is held in the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Sotheby’s said a $45 million price tag would mark a world record for a musical instrument.

The current auction record for a musical instrument is the Lady Blunt Stradivarius violin, which sold online for $15.9 million in 2011.

Violist David Aaron Carpenter described the viola as “the best preserved and probably the most beautiful of them all”.

Vettel, Franklin win top Laureus honours

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It might not be the biggest he’s won, but Sebastian Vettel says it’s undoubtedly one of the most special.

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The four-time Formula One champion added yet another trophy to his growing collection on Wednesday night in Kuala Lumpur, where he was named the Laureus world sportsman of the year.

The 26-year-old was awarded the honour after becoming the youngest ever driver to clinch four successive titles in 2013.

The feat left three-time winner Usain Bolt in the shade, as well as fellow nominees LeBron James (basketball), Rafael Nadal (tennis), Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer) and Mo Farah (athletics).

“When I was a young kid and started competing, I fell in love with my sport and fell in love with racing and fell in love with the fact that if you do well, at the end of the race you receive a trophy,” said Vettel, who had been nominated five times without success.

“It’s still one of the main things that drives me today – to hold a trophy at the end of the race and to be on the podium.

“This one is not the biggest one I’ve ever received, but it’s one of the most special I have now.”

While 2014 got off to a poor start for the German, his Red Bull retiring early in last week’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Vettel sits among only Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost to have won four or more F1 crowns.

But rarely, he said, does he understand the scale of his achievements.

“I think events like to tonight make me realise how many people actually care and follow you, your sport,” added Vettel, ahead of Sunday’s Malaysian GP.

Not to be outdone in the age stakes, 18-year-old swimmer Missy Franklin was crowned the youngest ever world sportswoman of the year.

The American’s record six gold-medal haul at the 2013 world championships put her ahead of previous winners Serena Williams (tennis) and Yelena Isinbayeva (pole vault), Tina Maze (skier), Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Brisbane Roar’s own W-League star Nadine Angerer of Germany.

“This is such a dream come true,” Franklin said.

“I’m so happy I was able to come – it was during my Spring break so I’m not missing any school, which worked out perfect!”

Australian golfer Adam Scott missed his chance at glory in Breakthrough of the Year, which was awarded to MotoGP sensation Marc Marquez.

Scott’s drought-breaking US Masters victory wasn’t enough to beat Marquez, who last year became the youngest ever MotoGP world champion at 20 years 266 days.

It was also a disappointing night for surfer Mick Fanning, denied for a third time Action Sportsperson of the Year honours – handed to British BMX rider Jamie Bestwick.

Barely 24 hours after they were crowned German champions for a 24th time, Bayern Munich took out world team of the year.

Their treble in 2013 – a feat likely to be repeated to this year – toppled fellow nominees New Zealand’s All Blacks, the first national rugby team to go unbeaten over 12 months in the professional era.

Meanwhile Nadal took out Comeback of the Year and France’s Marie Bochet sportsperson of the year with a disability.

Winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, a panel made up of 46 sporting greats including four Australians.

Wednesday’s star-studded ceremony, attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, was scaled back out of respect to those affected by missing flight MH370.

Brazil unveil state-of-the-art World Cup base

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“The players here will have much more than they have at their clubs and they will want for nothing,” Scolari told reporters at the re-opening of the Granja Comary complex.

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“Now, the responsibility is ours,” added Scolari, who was the manager when Brazil last won the World Cup in 2002.

“We need to play our role. And in playing our role we are going to do what everyone wants and become world champions.”

The training centre was opened 27 years ago and hundreds of Brazilian players have stayed there. But it was in need of repair and builders tore it down and built a modern new complex that Scolari and assistant manager Carlos Alberto Parreira said would be the envy of any European side.

“Nothing I’ve ever seen before is like this here,” Parreira said.

“We’ve started to win the World Cup off the field. You can’t win on the field if you don’t win off the field. When we win off the field that’s one hand on the trophy. Now it is up to us.”

The old twin rooms which players shared have been transformed into 39 individual rooms, each with its own bathroom, king-size bed and big-screen TV.

The huge complex in the hills around 91 kilometres (57 miles) from Rio de Janeiro has swimming pools and jacuzzis, a cafeteria, a games room and an area where the players can host friends and family. There are also several full-sized pitches and indoor training facilities.

The squad, due to be announced on May 7, will meet there on May 26 to prepare for the World Cup. Brazil’s first match is against Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 12.

“The facilities here were obsolete and so we had a big challenge tearing it all down and starting from zero,” said Brazilian Football Federation president Jose Maria Marin.

“Today I am proud and privileged to hand over the new Granja Comary to the staff and above all to the players.

“This base will serve as a legacy for all the Brazil sides that will meet here,” Marin added.

(Additional reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier, editing by Ed

Osmond)

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Fiji drops Comm Games boycott threat

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Fiji has dropped its threat to boycott the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow over the exclusion of its rugby sevens team, with sports boss Reg Sanday saying other athletes couldn’t be deprived a chance to compete.

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The Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee met late Wednesday to consider a boycott after being told its medal-favourite sevens team cannot take part in the July Games.

Sanday told reporters following the meeting that most delegates believed Fiji should move on and participate.

Fiji had been barred from the Commonwealth Games following a 2006 military coup but was readmitted two weeks ago ahead of a return to democratic elections planned for later this year.

However, the Games draw for rugby sevens had already been made with the qualification rules making no provision for late entries. The Fiji netball team has been shut out for the same reason.

Sanday told the FijiLive website that Fiji rugby and netball officials fully supported the move to go to Glasgow and want the country to move forward through sports.

“It is just unfortunate that our sevens team and our netters will miss out due to the late announcement,” he said.

The Fiji sevens team is currently preparing for this weekend’s world series tournament in Hong Kong where coach Ben Ryan said the Commonwealth Games row would not detract from their ultimate target of the 2016 Olympic Games.

“There’s no doubt we’d have a very realistic gold medal chance in Glasgow, but not playing isn’t that big a disappointment,” Ryan told the South China Morning Post.

“What’s more important is getting Olympic qualification so it gives us a chance to have a good pre-season instead.”

The top four teams in the Sevens World Series next year will get automatic promotion to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Paul Walker’s family stunned by report

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Paul Walker’s family was reportedly “blindsided” by his death report.

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The actor and his friend Roger Rodas were killed in Santa Clarita, California on November 30 when the Porsche driven by Rodas veered off the road and slammed into a pole, exploding into flames.

Investigators concluded the crash was caused by speed, not mechanical failure, and announced their findings at a news conference on Tuesday.

TMZ reports the Walker family received no advance warning, with one person indicating they were stunned to see a news ticker with the announcement on television.

Apparently the family feels “betrayed” by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after officers reportedly failed to give them a courtesy call.

A spokesperson for the family had not commented publicly on the case at press time.

The LA County Sheriff has also yet to comment.

Sheriff’s Commander Mike Parker said on Tuesday Rodas was driving at high speeds when he lost control of the vehicle.

“Investigators determined the cause of the fatal solo-vehicle collision was unsafe speed for the roadway conditions,” Parker said.

The final report obtained by CNN indicated the vehicle was travelling “between 80 and 93 mph at the time the car impacted a power pole and several trees”.

The coroner’s report previously indicated the men could have been travelling up to 100 mph.

The posted speed limit in the area the men were driving is 45 mph, according to the network.

Walker was on a brief break from Fast and Furious 7 when the tragedy occurred.

Production was put on hold as a result, however studio bosses revealed this week the feature will be completed using CGI and body doubles.

Fast and Furious 7 is scheduled for release in April 2015.