Monthly archives: July, 2019

Cambodian farmers killed by anti-tank mine

Six Cambodian farmers were killed when their truck hit an old anti-tank mine planted by Khmer Rouge guerrillas during the country’s civil war, police say.

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The men were driving through a flooded field in northern Preah Vihear province on Wednesday evening when the explosion occurred, provincial police chief Sy Kiri said.

A seventh man was seriously injured.

“The anti-tank mine was left over from the civil war and it was planted by the Khmer Rouge soldiers to defend their area from the government forces,” Sy Kiri said, adding the area was a major battle field in the 1980s and has not yet been demined.

The farmers had been driving through the flooded area on the way to inspect their paddy fields, which have been left inundated by recent heavy rains.

Nearly three decades of civil war gripped Cambodia from the 1960s onwards, leaving the poverty-stricken country as one of the world’s most heavily mined places.

The brutal hardline communist Khmer Rouge regime was responsible for the deaths of up to two million people from starvation, disease, overwork or execution during the “Killing Fields” era in the late 1970s.

After they were ousted from power by the Vietnamese in 1979, they continued to wage a savage guerrilla war until the 1990s, with remote parts of Preah Vihear acting as their last holdout.

In 2012 leftover landmines and other unexploded ordnance killed 43 people and caused 142 injuries, according to official statistics.

Late last month, two Cambodian children and a man were killed when their buffalo cart hit an anti-tank mine left over from the country’s civil war in northwestern Oddar Meanchey province.


Argentina not so far from first championship win as feared

But South Africa coach Heneke Meyer, whose side inflicted that big 73-13 wound, had no doubts Argentina are where they should be after the Springboks narrowly escaped defeat to win 22-17 in Mendoza on Saturday.

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“When (Argentina) play this way, it’s very difficult to get the ball and I’m not saying this as an excuse, they played very well and deserve to be in this kind of competition,” Meyer told reporters.

South Africa were scrappy but this was due in good part to Argentina making it very hard for them to play, unlike the previous clash.

Argentina were never behind after an early Juan Manuel Leguizamon try and led until eight minutes from time, however indiscipline allowed fly-half Morne Steyn to steal victory for South Africa with two penalties, taking his tally to 17 points.

The Pumas set about recovering their identity as a team that has an iron defence and never-say-die attitude in the short week between the two tests.

“We changed the way we went into the match, fundamentally in our minds. And we accompanied that with a good game since we had a lot of moments in their half and scored points,” coach Santiago Phelan said.

“We don’t talk about winning or losing but of the way we can play and end a match with our heads held high. Today I think we saw a solid team and the way we lost gives us confidence to be able to work and grow as a team,” added captain Felipe Contepomi.

The first Argentine try caught South Africa cold and although the Springboks hit back through wing Bjorn Basson, the Pumas’ strong first-half momentum kept them going forward.

Their best attack took them through several phases until a darting run in the middle by wing Gonzalo Camacho brought them close to the line and scrumhalf Martin Landajo fed centre Marcelo Bosch who crashed through the defence to touch down.

DRY SECOND HALF

With Contepomi´s second conversion and a penalty reply by Styen, Argentina led 17-13 at the interval, but that is where their scoring stopped. Like last year’s 16-16 draw in Mendoza, South Africa had a more disciplined staying power to come back into the match.

“This is a team with a lot of pride, our captain tells us over and over that this group (of players) cannot be broken. Sadly, last Saturday we were broken and that hadn’t happened in recent years and it was a terrible coming down to earth,” said Bosch.

“(But) we all contributed from Monday to change our image, luckily it worked out and we’re proud of what we gave today,”

Argentina recovered some of their renowned scrummaging power, with loosehead prop Marcos Ayerza, who missed the Soweto match through injury, saying: “Our scrum was good, maybe we didn’t get all we should have (from it) but I think we were solid and a constant source for attack.”

Fullback Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, another player who came into the team on Saturday for the injured Juan Martin Hernandez, said Argentina must learn to maintain their discipline for the 80 minutes if they want to win such matches.

“In the last 10 minutes we had two balls in their 22 and we had to retreat with a penalty against us. It’s very hard for us to get to the last metres and when we do we must score,” he said.

However, the Pumas will feel they are themselves again when they play New Zealand and Australia away in their two matches next month.

(Editing by Mark Pangallo)


Eagle Dean Cox on track for club record

West Coast ruckman Dean Cox has declared he wants to play on next year, and says he would jump at the chance to play finals football this season – even from the unusual position of ninth spot.

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Cox will sign a new one-year deal in the coming weeks, extending his decorated career into a 14th season.

The 270-game veteran is on track to surpass Glen Jakovich’s club record of 276 games next year, and the six-time All-Australian hasn’t ruled out playing on in 2015.

And with Essendon in danger of losing premiership points over their controversial 2012 supplements program, Cox would have no qualms if the Eagles qualified for this year’s finals series from ninth spot.

“I’d be happy with it,” Cox said on Monday.

“It wouldn’t bother me. I think that’s out of everyone’s control.

“If we play finals because we come ninth, and the AFL allow you to do that, well so be it.

“We’ll be playing fifth and we’ll give them a good crack.”

The Eagles sit just 1.2 per cent behind the ninth-placed Blues, and would likely need two wins from games against Geelong (Patersons), Collingwood (MCG) and Adelaide (Patersons) if they are to leapfrog the Blues.

Cox is just one of three Eagles who have played every game this season, along with youngsters Andrew Gaff and Jack Darling.

The 32-year-old premiership ruckman said his body had held up well despite taking on an increased workload in the absence of ruck partner Nic Naitanui, who has missed most of the year with groin issues.

Cox had a bit of a chuckle when asked whether he could reach the 300-game mark.

But he said it would be a humbling experience if he could beat Jakovich’s club games record.

“When I was young I certainly idolised the way Jacko played,” Cox said of the two-time premiership defender.

“I was fortunate enough to play three or four seasons with him.”

The Eagles are set to be boosted by the return of midfielder Luke Shuey for Saturday night’s home clash with Geelong.

West Coast received a big confidence-boost in Sunday’s 53-point win over Essendon, but Cox said the team would need to take their game to an ever higher level against the second-placed Cats.


US to lower prison sentences for drug offences

In remarks to the American Bar Association, Attorney General Eric Holder was to call minimum jail terms “counterproductive,” according to excerpts from his speech released in advance.

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Holder says the United States should remain strict but be smarter about tackling crime.

And he warned that, while the total US population has increased by a third since 1980, the prison population has soared by 800 percent.

The United States accounts for five percent of the world population but nearly a quarter of all people imprisoned, he said.

“Today, a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem, rather than alleviate it,” Holder was to say.

And of 219,000 people jailed in federal as opposed to state-run prisons, nearly half were convicted of drug-related offenses.

Altogether, inmates in local, state and federal prisons cost the government $80 billion dollars in 2010 alone, he added, saying it was time for reform.

“We can start by fundamentally rethinking the notion of mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes. Some statutes that mandate inflexible sentences — regardless of the facts or conduct at issue in a particular case — reduce the discretion available to prosecutors, judges, and juries,” Holder said.

He added: “They breed disrespect for the system. When applied indiscriminately, they do not serve public safety. They have had a disabling effect on communities. And they are ultimately counterproductive.”

The mandatory minimum sentences were included in the penal code by Congress in 1986 and 1988.

Holder said he hoped Congress would pass new legislation but in the meantime he has mandated a modification of the Justice Department’s charging policies.

Holder said that under the changes certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences.

“They now will be charged with offenses for which the accompanying sentences are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins,” he said, according to a draft of his speech.

In a further effort to ease the prison population, Holder announced a change to allow for early release of elderly inmates who did not commit violent crimes and have served significant portions of their sentences.

The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the changes enthusiastically.

“Today, the attorney general is taking crucial steps to tackle our bloated federal mass incarceration crisis, and we are thrilled by these long-awaited developments,” it said in a statement.

“While today’s announcement is an important step toward a fairer justice system, Congress must change the laws that lock up hundreds of thousands of Americans unfairly and unnecessarily,” the ACLU added.

In 2010 President Barack Obama won passage of a law establishing more equality in sentences for convictions for possessing crack and cocaine. They were stiffer for crack, and most of those convicted of this were black.

That law also did away with mandatory minimum sentences for first time crack possession offenses. It was the first such minimum sentencing elimination since the 1970s.


Pearson back in form in nick of time

After having her aura of invincibility sorely tested during a string of recent defeats, Sally Pearson is feeling like her old self again.

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Which is very good news for the Pearson-led Australian team at the world athletics championships starting in Moscow on Saturday.

And extremely bad news for the powerhouse four-pronged American lineup hoping to end the reigning world and Olympic champion’s dominance of the 100m hurdles.

Two hamstring injuries meant Pearson wasn’t able to start her 2013 racing program until June.

The first five of her meets produced several uncharacteristic losses and some pretty mediocre times.

But a July 26 return to the London Olympic stadium – the venue of her unforgettable 2012 Games triumph – produced a welcome change in fortune.

The time of 12.65 seconds was still nothing special by her lofty standards, but it was still vitally important to claim the win, sending a clear message to her rivals in the process.

“Hopefully I put that into their minds and reminded them who I am and that I am a competitor when I go into a major championships,” said Pearson.

“I think I have just as big a chance as everyone out there and I just can’t wait to see what I can produce because everyone knows I am a big-time performer and that is what I thrive on.”

Pearson, 26, drew further confidence from a chat with American 110m hurdler Aries Merritt in the wake of her most disappointing run of the year, when she trailed home in fifth spot in 12.75 at the Monaco Diamond League meet.

Like the Australian, Merritt was also hampered by injury after winning the London Olympic title.

“He just said that he believed in me,” said Pearson.

“He has obviously been through the same thing I have, except he has done his hamstring three times.

“He said just start believing in yourself now and make sure that you get to those world championships in the best state possible and that sometimes mental strength is far more beneficial than physical strength.”

Pearson’s long-time coach Sharon Hannan saw clear improvement in her star charge during the London Diamond League win, with those gains consolidated during the recent Australian team camp in the English town of Tonbridge, where the final touches were also put on her 2012 Olympic campaign.

“I am really happy with how she is coming along now,” said Hannan.

“I have been seeing some good stuff over a few weeks.

“It still felt a bit messy to Sal because putting that sort of speed over hurdles has always been a challenge but I told her to back herself and know that I knew she was on target.”

The formidable US challenge in Moscow will be led by rising star Brianna Rollins, who moved above Pearson to equal third on the all-time list with her blistering time of 12.26 seconds at the US trials in June.

Rollins has deliberately avoided racing against Pearson in the intervening couple of months – a tactic questioned by Australian head coach Eric Hollingsworth.

The other American big gun is Dawn Harper, who won Olympic gold ahead of Pearson in 2008, only for the Australian to reverse the result four years later in London.

The remaining two US representatives, Queen Harrison and Nia Ali, sit second and third on the 2013 rankings.

Pearson is back in equal 10th – for now.

But – with self-belief restored and another major title on the line – almost certainly not for much longer.